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Russia Encounters More Problems Sending Long-Delayed Module and Robotic Arm to Space Station

Russia Encounters More Problems Sending Long-Delayed Module and Robotic Arm to Space Station
First Slashdot reader Thelasko quotes the BBC’s report Wednesday: A Russian rocket has departed the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to deliver a new science module to the International space station (ISS). The 13m-long, 20-tonne [44,000-pound] Nauka laboratory will go on the rear of the orbiting platform, connected to the other major Russian segments, Zvezda and Zarya. The new module carries with it a large robotic arm supplied by the European Space Agency (Esa). Nauka is much delayed. It was originally supposed to launch in 2007. But it suffered repeated slips in schedule, in part because of budget difficulties but also because engineers encountered a raft of technical problems during development. The module will result in a significant boost in habitable volume for the ISS, raising it by 70 cubic metres.
It’s expected to dock this Thursday (July29), according to CBS News, after which “It will take up to 11 Russian spacewalks over about seven months to electrically connect and outfit the new lab module, providing a new airlock, research space, living quarters, a European Space Agency robot arm and other systems.”

But Friday Gizmodo reported the attempt to deliver the module to the Space Station “is still having problems.”

The first glitch in Nauka’s journey happened yesterday, when the spacecraft didn’t complete its first orbit-raising burn. This meant that the uncrewed Nauka wasn’t on track to actually intercept the ISS, which it’s scheduled to dock with on Thursday, July 29. The problem was attributed to a software issue in a computer aboard Nauka, which prevented the spacecraft’s main engines from firing. Nauka’s team was able to manage a remote course correction, but a second bout of course corrections were deemed necessary, and scheduled for Friday…

Nauka’s also been having issues with one antenna and its docking target, and its uncertain how those issues will affect docking attempts, SpaceNews reported. “Apparently there is still an issue with the Kurs rendezvous system, and that is pretty critical for docking,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, adding that the spacecraft’s TORU system — which allows the astronauts aboard the ISS assist with the docking — is working normally. For now, the Pirs docking compartment is currently sitting in Nauka’s assigned dock on the ISS. Pirs’ scheduled undocking to make way for the new module was postponed from Friday to Sunday, .

Read more of this story at Slashdot.