After years of delays, Russia finally sent the Nauka science module to the International Space Station on Wednesday. The new component was launched aboard a Proton-M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
If all goes as planned, within eight days, Nauka should carry out the docking operation at the International Space Station.
But first, the current Pirs module will be separated by the Progress MS-16 cargo spacecraft. It will also be loaded with garbage produced by the station’s crew, and will be incinerated with the Pirs as it re-enters the atmosphere, four hours after separation.
The new 22-ton unit will become the largest wing of the International Space Station.
Measuring 13 meters in length and 4.3 meters in diameter, it houses a research laboratory and an extra bed for an astronaut, as well as a bathroom, an oxygen replenishment system, and equipment for urine recycling and water production.
The Nauka was scheduled to launch in 2007, but the mission has faced design and assembly delays, and more recently it has had problems linked to the coronavirus pandemic. It includes a robotic arm that will be used to handle equipment and experiments outside the station.
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