The journey from the Nauka rocket to the International Space Station wasn’t without struggle, but she was able to grab hold of the International Space Station on Thursday. For unknown reasons, the Nauka guided missiles fired unexpectedly, causing the entire complex to deviate from its course for a while.
The entire complex lost 45 percent of its orientation due to the unexpected maneuvering of the Nauka guided missiles. In response, Zvezda guided missiles were launched to correct the situation. In the meantime, the ignition stopped and the positioning returned.
The crew of three Americans, a Russian, a Japanese and a Frenchman was not in danger. The problem of thrusters cannot be repeated because all the fuel in the engines is exhausted.
First pairing in eleven years
The Nauka was launched on July 21 from Baykonur in Kazakhstan on the Proton-M launch vehicle, but almost immediately had problems with propulsion. The module was able to dock with the International Space Station on Thursday, making it the first Russian link to the International Space Station in eleven years. The link occurred at 3:29 pm Belgian time, just under 420 km above the border between Mongolia and China. It will take several months and spacewalks before the unit is fully integrated.
The launch was closely watched by the European Space Agency, as the European robotic arm ERA flew along. It is the first robotic arm capable of operating in the Russian segment, the development and construction of which cost about 360 million euros.
Nauka means science in Russian, and the project is mainly devoted to research and storage of laboratory materials. There is also now more storage space, a water and oxygen generator, and the living conditions for astronauts are also improving.
This assignment comes after years of delays. The unit was supposed to move into space since 2007. But design changes, technical difficulties, and many setbacks caused frequent delays.
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