The Nauka multi-functional laboratory module planned for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2021 will be sent to the Baikonur spaceport from the Khrunichev Space Center (the module’s producer) on August 10, the press office of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Friday.
“Russian Railways confirmed the dispatch window for bringing out the especially valuable non-standard cargo [the Nauka module] from the territory of the Khrunichev Space Center for August 10, 2020,” Roscosmos said.
Khrunichev Space Center Deputy CEO for Production Roman Khokhlov earlier said that the research module for the orbital outpost would be sent to the Baikonur spaceport overnight to August 7.
The Roscosmos press office specified that the Khrunichev Space Center was now preparing the accompanying documentation, “confirming compliance with the transportation means and agreeing the terms of transporting the Nauka module with Russian Railways.”
Khrunichev Space Center Deputy CEO for Production Khokhlov said on July 31 that the research module would undergo a cycle of tests at the Baikonur Cosmodrome before its launch to the orbital outpost. The entire preparations for the launch at the spaceport would take nine months, he added.
“The stage of electrical tests takes about six months together with preparations because there is a large number of systems. Scheduled operational measures take another three months from this moment to the launch. This involves direct preparations for the launch together with the provision of microbiological protection, fueling and other operations,” he explained.
Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin earlier said that the Nauka research module was opening the way for further building up Russia’s presence on the ISS. The launch of the Nauka module to the orbital outpost was planned for April 2021, he specified.
The Russian Space journal issued by Roscosmos earlier reported that the module would be sent into orbit towards the International Space Station in the second quarter of 2021. Roscosmos Executive Director for Science and Long-Term Programs Alexander Bloshenko told TASS in April that the experiment Vampire would be carried out in the module to create crystals for the latest infrared sensors that will be used on satellites of the Sfera orbital grouping. An experiment to develop embryos in quail eggs is also planned to be conducted in the module.
Russia’s Nauka research module
The module’s construction began in 1995. Russia initially planned to launch the Nauka lab to the ISS as a back-up of the Zarya compartment (the station’s first module that continues its flight as part of the orbital outpost) but the launch was numerously delayed. In 2013, the Nauka module was sent to the Khrunichev Space Center after metal chips were found in its fuel system.
The Nauka multi-functional laboratory module can generate oxygen for six people and regenerate water from the urine. The Nauka will provide a second toilet for Russian cosmonauts (the first is located in the Zvezda module) and a room for the third crew member. It will also use the European Robotic Arm (ERA) that will help perform some operations without spacewalks.