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Russia to dock a unused science unit at the space station on Thursday

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  • Russia is transporting a unused science unit, called the Nauka, to the International Space Station.
  • Nauka is 14 years late, but brings unused science facilities and additional space for Russian cosmonauts.
  • Nauka is scheduled to dock at the International Space Station Thursday morning. Watch NASA’s live broadcast of the exercise below.

Russia is finally ready to attach a lengthy-awaited scientific module to the International Space Station.

The unused unit, a 43-foot-lengthy cylinder called Nauka (meaning “flag” in Russian), is currently orbiting the Earth and making its way toward the station. The Russian side of the International Space Station will donate expanded science facilities, crew quarters, and a unused airlock for spacewalks. The Nauka also features a unused docking port for Russian spacecraft.

The unit was originally scheduled to launch in 2007, but technical issues and unexpected repairs led to years of delays.

To clean up the port of Noka, Russia’s 20-year-old Pierce docking station detached from the International Space Station on Saturday. Pierce first arrived at the space station in 2001, and has been used as a receiving station for the Progress capsules carrying cargo and Soyuz spaceships carrying astronauts.

Russia's Progressive Spaceship docked at the International Space Station

The Russian Progress spacecraft docked in the Russian part of the International Space Station on June 2, 2021.


After Pierce was gone, the Progress spacecraft towed him into Earth’s atmosphere. When gravity pulled the old unit down, most of it burned up in the atmosphere. The parts that survived fell into the Pacific Ocean.

Now that Pierce’s Old Port is begin, Nauka is scheduled to dock there Thursday morning at 9:24 AM ET. The lofty-risk manipulate should ideally be carried out: the spaceship must align perfectly with the port in order to lock it in place and form a seal so the astronauts can begin the hatch and access their unused facility.

If all of that works, astronauts on the International Space Station will need to perform about 11 spacewalks to prepare the electronics outside the unused unit, according to Spaceflight Now.

Nauka had problems mid-flight on his way to the International Space Station

Launch engines for Proton-M rockets are launched from the launch pad carrying the nauka unit وحدة

A Proton-M rocket carrying the Nauka module lifts off from the launch pad at the Russian space facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, July 21, 2021.

Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service / AP

Nauka, also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), has not had a slick flight to the International Space Station.

Shortly following its launch on July 21, Nauka started crashing. He did not conclude the first burn of the engine that was supposed to propel it into a higher orbit overhead Earth. The unit needed to rise so that gravity would not pull it into the atmosphere, where it would burn. So, Russian mission controllers ordered the unit to fire the backup thrusters to propel itself upward.

Over the former few days, it has fired its engines several times to get on the correct orbital path.

A nauka space station module assembled in a big lab room

The Nauka module is assembled at the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome, April 9, 2021.

Alexandre Ryomin/TASS/Getty Images

Russian space agency, Roscosmos, announce On Wednesday morning, Nuka said she had successfully carried out her “final corrective manipulate”, putting her on track to reach the International Space Station.

Watch Nauka dock live on the space station

NASA plans to broadcast live footage of Noka’s docking at the International Space Station Thursday morning, starting at 8:30 a.m. ET. Watch the live stream via the embed below.


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