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Roll out of Nauka and its Proton-M rocket to Site 200 on Saturday, July 17, 2021. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

Proton and Nauka have been rolled out to the launch pad ahead of flight to the ISS

The new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) “Nauka” and its Proton-M launch vehicle, have been rolled out to launch Site 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and raised vertically earlier today, July 17, 2021. Over the next couple of days, technicians will fuel the rocket and check the launcher’s and module’s systems for any issues. If everything remains go for launch, the three-stage, liquid-fueled, heavy-lift launch vehicle will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 21, 2021 at 14:58 UTC, carrying Nauka into a low Earth orbit and toward the ISS.

Proton-M and Nauka vertical at site 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: Roscosmos.
Proton-M and Nauka vertical at Site 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

After about eight days in orbit, the module is expected to rendezvous with the International Space Station on July 29 and subsequently dock to the Zvezda module’s nadir docking port at 13:25 UTC.

Prior to the arrival of Nauka at the orbiting laboratory, the Russian Pirs module will be undocked from Zvezda’s nadir port on July 23 at 13:17 UTC by the Russian Progress MS-16 resupply freighter. Both Pirs and the Progress will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean a few hours after departing the ISS.

The Nauka module

The Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), also known as Nauka, is a Russian laboratory module soon to be launched to the ISS. Development and construction of Nauka already began in the mid-1990s, however the module was originally designed as a backup for the Russian Zarya module and not as a dedicated research facility. Nauka has a launch mass of over 20 tonnes, is equipped with a docking port for arriving Soyuz and Progress spacecraft and is able to transfer propellants between spacecraft and other modules. The module provides space for up to three tonnes of research equipment and experiments and has its own onboard propulsion system, with which Nauka will help raise the ISS’ orbit from time to time. The MLM also includes space for another crew member, another toilet and is equipped with the European Robotic Arm (ERA). Nauka’s launch to the ISS will be the first launch of a large Russian module since the launch of Zvezda in Juli 2000.

The Nauka module seen during final preparations ahead of its launch. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

The Pirs module

The Pirs Docking Compartment, also known as DC-1, is a Russian module currently docked to the Zvezda module’s nadir port at the Russian segment of the ISS. Pirs was launched to the ISS on September 14, 2001 atop a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The module, which was attached to a modified Progress freighter, arrived at the space station about three days later on September 17, 2001 and automatically docked to the ISS at 01:05 UTC. Pirs is 4.91 m in length, 2.55 m in diameter and serves as one of the International Space Station’s airlocks for spacewalks. It also provides a docking port for the Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft and is able to transfer propellant between docked visiting vehicles and the Russian Zvezda and Zarya modules.

The Pirs module and a docked Progress space freigher. Image Credit: NASA.

The Prichal module

Later this year, Russia will also launch Prichal, a second new module, to the ISS. Prichal, also known as Uzlovoy Module (UM) or Node Module (NM), will be a four tonnes ball-shaped module launched to the space station atop a modified Progress freighter atop a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur. Once the spacecraft arrives at the orbital laboratory, the Progress-MS-UM will automatically dock Prichal to the nadir docking port of the Nauka module. Prichal will provide five additional docking ports for new modules and arriving spacecraft.


Sources:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-tv-to-air-launch-of-space-station-module-departure-of-another

https://tass.com/science/1017479

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/pirs-docking-compartment

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/news/station/2001/iss01-29.html

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/news/station/2001/iss01-30.html

https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/um.htm

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