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Russian lab module due to dock on International Space Station

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An uncrewed Russian lab module for the International Space Station that is intended to provide more room for experiments and the ISS crew is due to dock on Thursday.

The Nauka module launched on July 21 on board the Proton-M booster rocket from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

After eight days in free-flight to allow Russian flight controllers to evaluate its systems, the 43ft-long module will automatically link up to the port on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment of the ISS.

The space is available following the departure of the Pirs docking compartment, with the attached Progress 77 spacecraft which had called the ISS home for the past 20 years.

Nauka, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, will be a new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for future operations.

SCIENCE ISS
(PA Graphics)

Its launch had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.

Once Nauka docks at the ISS, it will require a long series of manoeuvres, including up to 11 spacewalks beginning in early September, to prepare it for operation.

Docking to the ISS’s Zvezda module is scheduled for around 2.26pm (BST) on Thursday.

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