Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) Nauka, meaning “science,” has defied the odds to successfully dock to the ISS after a long and arduous journey dating back over 20 years and a problematic propulsion system after launch which had threatened the success of the mission.
The docking was not without issue, with Russian cosmonauts noting that Nauka wasn’t on the correct course less than an hour before docking; however, a retro burn quickly corrected the issue. After also troubleshooting an issue with the TORU manual docking system, which was used for the final seconds of the module’s approach, Nauka successfully docked to the Zvezda service module’s nadir port at 09:29 EDT / 13:29 UTC, marking the first major expansion to the Russian segment for over 20 years.
Nauka had been chasing down the International Space Station (ISS) for the last eight days after being launched atop a Proton-M booster from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 21 July.
Immediately after a successful orbit insertion of 190 x 350.1 km, issues with the module’s communications and propulsion systems were noted. Initial troubleshooting was complicated by limited communications during brief periods when the module came within range of Russian ground ...