MOSCOW, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Russia has postponed the launch of a scientific lab module to the International Space Station (ISS) due to technical and organizational problems, Russia's Energia Rocket and Space Corp. said Tuesday.
The launch of the Nauka multi-purposed space lab module, initially slated for 2011,already has been delayed several times.
Energia head Vitaly Lopota told reporters the launch has been postponed until late 2013.
The 20.3-ton module will serve as cargo storage and an extra docking joint for the ISS. It also contains three crew workstations.
Energia, Russia's largest space industry company, is a leading developer of the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. It is in charge of all operations involving the country's manned space flights.
Lopota said the company has been building the backup Soyuz manned spaceship and Progress cargo craft in line with the schedule.
"By the end of the year we'll have a reserved cargo spacecraft and by the end of the third quarter of next year a manned spaceship will be ready, depending on how the tests are passed," Lopota said.
After the retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, Russia's Soyuz spacecraft is the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS at least until 2015. The ISS program needs reserve spacecraft on hand in case of any emergency.