Russia’s New Addition to the Space Station: When to Watch it?


Earlier this year, Russian space officials were talking about withdrawing from the International Space Station in 2025. But that didn’t stop them from posting a new addition to their outpost division. Its name is the Nauka module, and its design and development began more than 20 years ago.

The module fills a gap for a capsule designed for science experiments in the Russian section of the station and is seen as important to the entire Russian program. It will also provide further improvements to the Russian part of the station.

Here’s what you need to know about the Nauka module and its arrival to the space station on Thursday.

The new Russian module is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Thursday around 9:25 pm ET.

NASA TV will broadcast live at 8:30 am Eastern time. Those who want to watch the operation in Russian can switch to t.Roscosmos’s YouTube page, Russian space agency.

The Nauka was originally built as a replacement for another Russian module, Zarya, and was later repurposed. Nauka in Russian means science, it performs the main task: hosting laboratory equipment for experiments.

Beyond that, the module includes a radiation-isolated cabin with additional living room for astronauts, toilet, new water recycling and air filtration systems, storage space and a robot arm provided by the European Space Agency.

Weighing over 20 tons and 42 feet long, the Nauka is poised to become one of the largest modules in the station. It will take a series of spacewalks to connect it to the station’s electrical and command circuits.

Development of the module began in the mid-1990s, before the first components of the station were lifted, and long before current political tensions with the United States increased the likelihood that Russia would leave the space station by 2025.

Its launch has been repeatedly delayed due to manufacturing defects and insufficient funding, leaving a void on the Russian side of the station. Russia is currently the only major operator without its own laboratory module.

Equipped with solar panels, Nauka will also make the Russian orbital segment less dependent on energy from the American side. Additional habitable space, including a bed for an astronaut, will make it possible to expand the permanent Russian crew to three members.

A Russian Proton rocket successfully orbited the new module, but problems arose almost immediately.

A glitch in the spacecraft’s engines caused scientists to be nervous on Earth for days. European Space Agency, the robotic arm is connected to the module. “Boredom insisted on being part of the journey,” the agency said in a statement.

Although Nauka would eventually dock with the station, it flew as an autonomous spacecraft for several days in orbit. The module placed its solar panels and antennas, but then failed to fire the engines to raise its orbit, a potentially mission-ending problem. The European Space Agency described the episode as “a few busy days at mission control”, saying that Russian engineers managed to fix that.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has never directly addressed issues in its updates about the mission; newsletter Last Thursday, the module’s thrusters were actually working. “Telemetry confirmed the operability of the module propulsion unit,” Roscosmos said in a statement.


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