Science

Russia launches new Prichal module to International Space Station

A new Russian module is on its way to the International Space Station.

A Russian-made Soyuz rocket carrying a modified Progress cargo spacecraft and the new Prichal docking module lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday (November 24) at 8:06 a.m. EST (1306 GMT).

“Take off! Twenty-three years and four days after the launch of the first module to the International Space Station, a new docking port takes flight,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during the agency’s live broadcast. “It was a perfect trip to orbit.”

Progress will deliver Prichal to the orbiting laboratory on Friday (November 26) at 10:26 am EST (1526 GMT), when Prichal will autonomously dock with Russia’s new Nauka multipurpose module, if all goes according to plan. You can watch all of that action here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly through the space agency.

Related: International Space Station at 8:00 PM: A Photo Tour

Roscosmos launched the Prichal port module toward the International Space Station on November 24, 2021. (Image credit: NASA TV)

The 4-ton spherical Prichal (Russian for “dock”) has approximately 494 cubic feet (14 cubic meters) of internal volume, according to RussianSpaceWeb.com. For comparison, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo and crew capsules boast 328 cubic feet (9.3 cubic meters) of pressurized volume.

Prichal has six berths, one of which will connect to the Land-facing port of Nauka on Friday. The other five will be available for spacecraft visits, which will help “expand the technical and operational capabilities of the orbital infrastructure of the Russian segment of the ISS,” wrote Russia’s federal space agency, known as Roscosmos, in a recent update. .

Prichal could also shape spaceflight beyond the ISS. Its applications include “test architecture for potentially permanent settlements in space,” according to RussianSpaceWeb.com, which notes that “it could also serve as a hub for [a] future new orbital base “.

Prichal will be the second Russian module to arrive at the station in less than four months. Nauka arrived at the orbiting lab on July 29 and caused quite a stir when she did. Nauka’s thrusters fired unplanned after docking, causing the ISS to rotate about 540 degrees.

No damage was done in that case, but space station managers certainly expect Prichal’s arrival to be much less bumpy.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.

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