Moscow (Associated Press)-Russia’s long-delayed laboratory module successfully docked with the International Space Station on Thursday, eight days before it was launched from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The 20-metric-ton (22-ton) Nauka module, also known as the multi-purpose laboratory module, is connected to the orbital outpost in an automatic mode after a long journey and a series of operations. The Russian Space Agency Roscosmos confirmed the module’s connection with the International Space Station at 13:29 GMT.
The launch of Nauka, which aims to provide more space for scientific experiments and crew, has been repeatedly delayed due to technical problems. It was originally planned to rise in 2007.
In 2013, experts discovered that its fuel system was contaminated, resulting in long replacement cycles and high costs. Other Nauka systems have also been modernized or repaired.
Since 2010, Nauka has become the first new module of the Russian part of the space station. On Monday, one of Russia’s older modules, the Pirs spacewalk capsule, was disconnected from the space station to make room for the new module.
The Russian crew on the space station conducted two spacewalks to connect the cables in preparation for Nauka’s arrival. After the docking, Nauka will need to conduct multiple exercises, including up to 11 spacewalks starting in early September, to prepare for operation.
The International Space Station is currently operated by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough, and Megan McArthur; Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov of Russia’s Roscosmos Aerospace Company; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
In 1998, Russia launched the station’s first module Zarya, followed by another large module Zvezda in 2000, and three smaller modules in the following years. The last of them, Rassvet, arrived at the station in 2010.