The new Russian scientific unit “Naoka” succeeded Thursday in docking with the International Space Station, according to what the Russian space agency “Roscosmos” announced, after nearly 15 years of delays and technical setbacks.
“The docking was confirmed between the Naoka multipurpose laboratory unit and the Svezda service unit (…) of the International Space Station,” Roscosmos said on its Twitter account. As for the director of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, he also wrote on Twitter: There was a call to welcome the first docking of a Russian unit to the International Space Station in 11 years.
And the agency explained in a statement after that that the remote measurement data and the reports of the International Space Station crew showed that the systems in the station and the “Naoka” unit were operating normally, noting that the docking took place at 16:29 Moscow time (13.29 GMT), That is, three minutes after the scheduled time.
Getting Naoka fully operational and integrated into the International Space Station would take several months and a series of extravehicular flights. This scientific unit was launched by a Proton-M rocket on July 21, 2021 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Roscosmos said Naoka (Science in Russian) is first and foremost a laboratory unit, but it will also provide additional workstation volumes, cargo storage and sites for water and oxygen regeneration equipment. It will also improve living conditions for astronauts by providing an additional toilet and a third sleeping place for the Russian section of the International Space Station.
Assembly of the 20-ton Naoka began in the 1990s, but its launch, initially scheduled for 2007, has been repeatedly delayed. It has an internal volume of 70 cubic metres, making it one of the largest units on the International Space Station.
Like other Russian space projects, Naoka has suffered from funding problems, bureaucratic errors and technical problems. Naoka replaced the Pierce module, which separated from the space station on Monday before burning up in Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, after 20 years in service. Peres joined the orbital station in 2011 and was scheduled to remain in service for only five years, but delays in replacing it forced Roscosmos to extend its service life.
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