A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the new Nauka laboratory module for the International Space Station took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the Roscosmos space agency said.
Images released by Roscosmos showed the carrier rocket taking off at 14:58 GMT, orbiting the first Russian ISS module in 11 years.
The module’s long-planned trip to the ISS will take eight days. It is expected to dock at Russian service module Zvezda’s port nadir on July 29, Roscosmos said in a statement in early July.
Assembly of the 20-ton Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module began in the 1990s, but its launch – originally scheduled for 2007 – has been continually delayed.
Pending a successful launch on Wednesday, Nauka will replace the Pirs module after twenty years of service, which is expected to detach from the ISS on Friday and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.
Although Nauka’s primary focus is research, it will also provide “additional volumes for workplaces and cargo storage, locations for water and oxygen regeneration equipment,” said declared Roscosmos.
It “will also improve the living conditions of cosmonauts, by providing additional toilets and a third sleeping place for the Russian part of the ISS”.
© 2021 AFP