Nauka ISS module successfully reaches orbit
MOSCOW. July 21 (Interfax) - A Proton-M launch vehicle has successfully placed the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) into orbit, as follows from a Roscosmos live broadcast.
The module separated from the third stage of the rocket as planned at 6:08 p.m. Moscow time.
It should take eight days for the module to approach the International Space Station (ISS), and its docking with the nadir port of the Zvezda Service Module is scheduled tentatively for 4:26 p.m. Moscow time on July 29.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Proton-M launch vehicle carrying the Nauka MLM lifted off from Site 200 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
The undocking of the Progress MS-16 resupply vehicle along with the Pirs docking port from the ISS, which the Nauka MLM is supposed to replace, is planned for July 23.
Alexander Bloshenko, Roscosmos's executive director for advanced programs and research, has said earlier that the Nauka MLM would initially carry 200 kilos of scientific equipment and 300 kilos of installation hardware. "We will put into orbit another 1.6 tonnes of research equipment for experiments on board transport spacecraft," Bloshenko said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 (VGTRK) television channel.
Russia has launched a new module to the ISS for the first time since 2010, when the Rassvet Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1) docked with the station.
Nauka's launch was originally set for 2017 but has been postponed several times since then.
The Nauka module is designed for building up the technical and operational capability of the Russian segment of the ISS. It should be instrumental in pursuing some fundamental research and social programs.