Sunday, December 5, 2021

Russian module docks with international space station

A long-delayed Russian laboratory module was captured at the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, eight days after it was launched from Russia’s space division into Kazakhstan.

The 20-ton unmanned Nauka (Science) module, nearly 13 meters long – also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) – moored at the ISS after a long and sometimes uncertain journey.

The European Space Agency (ESA) says shortly after the July 21 launch from the Russian Baikonur food modrum in Kazakhstan, the module deployed its solar panels and antennas according to the schedule. But shortly thereafter, the Russian Mission Control Center in Moscow said the vessel did not receive proper automated data commands and did not complete an initial incineration to increase its trajectory.

According to the ESA, flight engineers spent the week on critical propulsion tests and performed orbital corrections on the module, which is designed to meet the ISS and automatically engage using its own engines.

The ESA watched the launch of the module as it included a robotic arm developed by the agency.

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The difficult journey to the orbiting space station follows years of problems in not getting the module off the ground at all. The Nauka, designed to provide more space for scientific experiments and space for the crew, would initially go up in 2007, but was repeatedly delayed due to technical problems. Pollution was found in the fuel system, which led to a long and expensive replacement, and other systems underwent modernization or repairs.

The Nauka is now the first new module in the Russian segment of the station since 2010. Russian crew members at the station have done two spacewalks to connect cables in preparation for the new arrival. On Monday, one of the older Russian modules, the Pirs space division, took off from the space station to make space available for the new module.

The new module will require many operations, including up to 11 spatial walks starting in September, to get it ready for use.

Some information for this report comes from Associated Press and Reuters.

Nation World News Desk
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