New Russian ISS Nauka Module Starts Firing Thrusters Randomly; Atlas V Launch Postponed Indefinitely

Nauka module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Russia’s new Nauka module started firing its thrusters randomly after it docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday as the crew on board struggled to shut the system down manually, a source familiar with the situation told Parabolic Arc.

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Nauka Science Module Docks with International Space Station

Nauka module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — In accordance with the International Space Station flight program, today, July 29, 2021, at 16:29:06 Moscow time, the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module docked with the nadir docking port of the Zvezda service module of the ISS Russian segment. According to telemetry data and reports from the ISS crew, the on-board systems of the station and the “Nauka” module are functioning normally.

The multipurpose module “Nauka” was successfully launched into low-earth orbit on July 21, 2021 using a heavy launch vehicle “Proton-M”. After separating from the third stage, he was accepted for escort by the ground services of the TsNIIMash Mission Control Center near Moscow (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation), completed the construction of the required orientation, deployed solar panels and radio antennas, and then began an eight-day rendezvous program with the station.

At the autonomous rendezvous section, specialists from the Main Operational Control Group (LOCT, RSC Energia named after SP Korolev, part of Roscosmos) performed several firing of the module’s engines to raise and correct the orbit, as well as to enter the meeting area with the ISS at estimated time. The operations of flying around the station, hovering, docking and docking with the Zvezda service module were carried out under the supervision of LOCT specialists and Russian crew members of the long-term expedition ISS-65, Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Peter Dubrov. This docking was the first since 2010, when the small research module No. 1 “Rassvet” was docked to the station.

Within 1.5 hours after the completion of the docking, the cosmonauts will check the tightness of the docking connections and technological communications. At 18:15 Moscow time, it is planned to open the hatch of the transition compartment of the Zvezda module and in a few minutes more – the hatch of the new Russian module, as well as the entry of the crew into the living area of ​​the instrument-sealed compartment. The program of today’s work is limited to the installation of instruments for the analysis and purification of the atmosphere on board the arrived “Science”.

Pirs Module Being Prepared for Undocking From the Space Station

Oleg Novitskiy in the Pirs module. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Russian crewmembers of the 65th long-term expedition to the International Space Station are preparing the Pirs module for undocking from the Russian segment of the ISS. Given that the Proton-M carrier rocket launches with the Nauka module on July 21, 2021, Pirs undocking is scheduled for July 23.

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Russia Schedules Launch of New Space Station Module for July 21

Fitting a radiator for the cooling system and installation of devices. (Credit: Yuzhny Space Center/Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — In accordance with the State Commission decision, the Proton-M carrier rocket with the new Nauka laboratory module is scheduled to launch from Site 200 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 21, 2021 at 14:58:21 UTC. Reserve dates: July 22 and 23. Its flight to the International Space Station will take 8 days, and docking to the nadir port of the Zvezda service module is scheduled for July 29, expected at 13:26 UTC.

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Testing of New Russian Nauka Space Station Module Continues

Fitting a radiator for the cooling system and installation of devices. (Credit: Yuzhny Space Center/Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Roscomos PR) — In accordance with the prelaunch preparation schedule, factory control tests of the Nauka module continue in the assembly and test building of site No. 254 of the Baikonur cosmodrome.  Its launch to the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for 2021 using the Proton-M launch vehicle.

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Proton Launches 2 Communications Satellites

Proton rocket lifts off on July 31, 2020. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — Proton-M carrier rocket with the Briz-M booster successfully launched from pad No. 39 of Site No. 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The rocket carried two Russian telecommunication satellites Ekspress-80 and Ekspress-103 built by ISS Reshetnev company (part of Roscosmos). The launch and flight of the carrier rocket went nominally.

According to the flight sequence, 587 seconds after the liftoff the space head unit (booster and two spacecraft assembly) nominally separated from the third stage of the carrier rocket.

Further injection into orbit will be ensured by the booster service propulsion system. The total injection time from the liftoff and second satellite separation will reach 18 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds.

Proton-M carrier rocket is manufactured by Khrunichev Center (part of Roscosmos) and has been used to inject payloads into target orbits and departure trajectories as part of federal and commercial programs since 2001.

Throughout its operation, the rocket has undergone four deep modernizations allowing substantial improvement of its thrust to weight ratio and ecological characteristics while injecting heavy single and dual payloads.

Roscosmos Lays Out Plans to Transition to Angara Boosters

Inaugural Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The management of the State Corporation “Roscosmos” considers the launch of production of the Angara launch vehicles at the Omsk “POLET” Production Association (a branch of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and a part of Roscosmos) is a priority task for the Corporation.

Tight control is exercised over this year’s production of the first batch of the Angara LVs, as well as over their transfer to the customer – the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Until the reconstruction of the POLET plant is completed, the Khrunichev Center plans to produce two Angara-A5 heavy launch vehicles and one Angara-1.2 light LV per year.

In view of that, during the transition period, payload orbiting will be executed using partially the Proton-M launch vehicle, and partially the new Angara LVs. The target production capacity of Angara LVs will be eight heavy LVs and two light LVs per year.

ESA Reports Promising Progress for ExoMars Parachutes

A series of clips from different angles and at different speeds showing parachute extraction tests using a NASA/JPL test rig powered by compressed air.  The lid of the parachute assembly is pulled along a suspended cable at high speed while the end of the assembly is fixed to a wall. When the release mechanism is activated, the parachute bag is pulled away from the parachute at the target speed, mimicking the extraction as it will be on Mars. At the highest speeds, the tests enable the extraction to take place at more than 200 km/h.

PARIS (ESA PR) — A series of ground-based tests designed to check the extraction of the ExoMars 2020 mission’s parachutes from their bags have started successfully with promising results to keep the mission on track for next year’s launch.

Landing on Mars is a high-risk endeavour with no room for error. In just six minutes, a descent module with its precious cargo cocooned inside has to slow from around 21 000 km/h at the top of the planet’s atmosphere, to a soft landing at the surface controlled by the lander’s propulsion system.

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Proton-M Launch Reliability Enhancement Program Declared a Success

Proton launch (Credit: Roscosomos)

NUR SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — Khrunichev Center delegation participated in the Space Days International Forum, which took place in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan on November 12-13, 2019.

One of the forum aspects was the discussion of the Baikonur complex usage for international cooperation and developing new space technologies. Khrunichev Center Deputy Director General on International Economic Activity Andrey Pankratov spoke during the forum panel session on the ensuring reliability and ecological safety of Proton-M rocket complex while launching from Baikonur.

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Russians Go 12 Months Without Launch Failure

A Proton takes a nose dive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here….

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Russian space program reached a milestone last week: for the first time in nearly a decade, it went a full 12 months — 365 days — without a single partial or complete launch failure.

On Oct. 11 the program passed the one-year anniversary of the Soyuz MS-10 in-flight abort that sent NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin on a wild ballistic ride. Neither one was injured; both later flew to the International Space Station.

The last time Russia went more than one year between launch failures was a 14-month stretch between March 14, 2008 and May 21, 2009.

The last calendar year in which the Russian space program had a clean sheet was in 2003. They have 76 days left in 2019 to equal that feat.

The table below shows the program’s 22 failures and six partial failure over the past 15 years.

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