On Wednesday (July 21), Russia’s largest space laboratory was launched into orbit on a mission to expand the International Space Station after 14 years of delays.
IN Russian multipurpose research module (MLM), also known as Science, rushed to International space station at 10:58 am ET (14:58 UTC) on top of a Proton-M rocket from the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch of Nauka was a long one, and it was originally planned to launch in 2007.
“Engine start and separation. A module called “Science” is flying to the International Space Station! NASA commentator Rob Navias said as soon as the rocket took off from the launch pad, sending the 22-ton (20-ton) Nauka module to the space station.
Connected: International Space Station: inside and outside (infographic)
The module carrying the European Robotic Arm (ERA), a new robotic unit designed to serve the Russian segment of the space station, successfully detached from the launcher 580 seconds after launch.
“T + 9: 40 minutes after the launch, the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module nominally separated from the 3rd stage of the Proton-M launch vehicle!” Roscosmos confirms successful separation tweet this was later disabled. “He is now starting an 8-day autonomous flight to the ISS.”
Three minutes later, Roscosmos confirmed that Nauka had successfully deployed solar panels and antennas. According to TASS, the module will now use its own engines for launching into orbit.
Science, which is expected to dock at the orbital outpost on July 29, will be the largest Russian component of the station. A module longer than 42 feet (13 meters) and a maximum diameter of 14 feet (4.3 meters) will be home research facilities but also provide a spare astronaut bed, as well as a toilet, oxygen recovery system and equipment for the disposal of water from urine.
Before Science reaches the space station, astronauts will have to film Docking module pier on the Zvezda service module under construction in Russia, so that Nauka would take its place. This undocking is scheduled for 9:17 am ET (1317 GMT) on Friday (July 23) and you can watch it live thanks to NASA Television.
The cosmonauts began preparations for the Pirs flight last month during series of spacewalks… Pierce leaves the space station after serving as a docking port and airlock for the orbiting laboratory for nearly 20 years. It will partially burn up in the atmosphere, but parts of it will fall into the Pacific Ocean about four hours after it leaves the space station. TBUTSS…
Science, conceived in the early 1990s, has experienced many obstacles on its way into space. Originally developed as a backup for the first module of the Zarya station, launched in 1998, Nauka has spent more than two decades waiting on the ground, out of date.
In 2013, the Khrunichev Space Center, which built Nauka, had to remove metal shavings found in the module’s fuel system, TASS reports. At some point, Roskosmos thought about replacing the aging fuel tanks of the research module with those from the Fregat launch vehicle. However, it was later decided to send the module to the space station with the original tanks.
Science also has an active docking port and airlock that will be serviced by a 36-foot (11 m) European robotic arm, the first robot operator designed specifically to operate on the Russian segment of the space station.
Follow Teresa Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom and further Facebook…