Russia’s Nauka science module is seen inside its shipping container after arriving at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Aug. 19. Credit: Energia
A long-delayed Russian science module was transported by train from Moscow to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier this month a final series of electrical tests and outfitting before launch to the International Space Station next year.
The bus-sized Nauka research module — also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, or MLM — has been in development for more than 20 years, originally as a backup for Russia’s Zarya module, the first element of the space station to launch in 1998. Russia said in 2004 that the backup to Zarya would be converted into a lab module for launch in 2007.
But delays have kept the Russian lab on the ground for years. Engineers at Energia, the prime contractor for Russia’s human spaceflight program, found flaws in the module’s propulsion system in 2013. The module was returned to Khrunichev, its manufacturer, for lengthy repairs that delayed Nauka’s launch several more years.
Nauka, which means “science” in Russian, will be the largest Russian element to join the International Space Station since the launch of the Zvezda service module ...