Russia still hopes to launch 25-year-old space module to ISS

On the night of August 11, a train carrying the new module called "Nauka" (translates into English as 'Science') of the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) departed to the Baikonur cosmodrome from the rocket and space factory named after M.V. Khrunichev.

"Upon the arrival of the module at the technical complex of the cosmodrome, specialists of the Khrunichev Center will carry out the works to prepare all systems of the module for complex tests. Based on the results of the complex tests of the module and their assessment, specialists will start preparing for the launch of the module to the International Space Station," a message posted on the website of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos said.

It is expected that the monitoring cycle and prelaunch preparations of the Science module will take about nine months. Afterwards, the module will be launched into orbit to become part of the  Russian segment of the ISS.

The works on the construction of the Nauka laboratory module started in 1995 as a backup for the FGB module for the ISS. After the FGB was successfully launched and began operating as part of the space station, it was decided to use a backup as an additional module for the Russian segment of the ISS. It was originally planned to be launched in 2011, but the plans did not materialise after  metal chips were found during inspections in its fuel tanks and pipes. Since then, the launch of the Nauka module has been postponed many times.

As part of the ISS, the module, equipped with appliances to generate oxygen for six people and to regenerate water from urine, is planned to be used for experiments, maintaining the orientation of the station, docking of manned and cargo ships, as well as for fuel transit purposes. It is also planned to install the European Robotic Arm on the module, which, among other things, will enable servicing the Russian segment of the ISS without the need for spacewalk.