Wrapping up practically 20 years of service as a docking port and airlock, Russia’s Pirs module is about to depart the Worldwide House Station Monday beneath tow from a Progress provide ship, heading for a harmful re-entry in Earth’s environment to clear the best way for arrival of a bigger science lab later this week.
Russia’s Progress MS-16 cargo freighter will undock from the area station at 6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT) Monday. As a substitute of departing the station alone, the Progress spacecraft will again away from the complicated with Russia’s Pirs docking compartment, clearing a port on the Zvezda service module that has been occupied since 2001.
The Pirs module launched to the area station Sept. 14, 2001, aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A modified Progress cargo spacecraft delivered the Pirs module to the station, culminating in a docking with the Earth-facing port on the Zvezda service module two days after launch.
Since then, the Pirs module has supported dozens of Russian spacewalks and served as a docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress ferry ships carrying crew and cargo to the area station. The Russian Poisk module, launched in 2009 and related in design to Pirs, stays on the area station on the alternative facet of the Zvezda module to function an airlock for future Russian spacewalks.
The Progress MS-16 cargo freighter grew to become the ultimate visiting car to dock with Pirs in February. On June 2, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov ventured exterior the area station to prep the Pirs module for disposal. Their duties included repositioning an extendable tethered to Pirs, and unplugging rendezvous antenna cables from the module.
Pirs measures about 16 ft (4.9 meters) lengthy and eight.4 ft (2.55 meters) in diameter at its widest level, in keeping with NASA.
With these preparations full, Russian officers awaited launch of the module that can take the place of Pirs at Zvezda’s Earth-facing docking port.
The Nauka science lab, a long-delayed enlargement of the area station’s Russian section, launched last Wednesday from Baikonur aboard a Proton rocket. After working via post-launch issues with the brand new spacecraft’s propulsion system and Kurs automated rendezvous radar, Russian mission controllers lastly accomplished the primary orbital maneuvers with Nauka’s predominant engines over the weekend and verified the Kurs system was practical for the science lab’s docking with the area station.
Whereas floor groups labored via these points, Russian managers delayed the departure of the Pirs module from Friday till Monday to get a clearer image of the standing of the brand new Nauka spacecraft.
Happy the the Nauka module is on observe to reach on the area station Thursday, mission management in Moscow gave the go-ahead to depressurize the docking system connecting Pirs with Zvezda in preparation for the departure Monday.
After undocking, the Progress MS-16 spacecraft will fireplace thrusters to hold the Pirs module a secure distance from the area station, then carry out a deorbit burn at 10:01 a.m. EDT (1401 GMT) Monday. That may set the stage for the Progress spacecraft, loaded with trash from the area station, to drive the Pirs module into the Earth’s environment for a harmful re-entry lower than an hour later.
Russia’s area company, Roscosmos, mentioned any particles that survives re-entry is anticipated to fall right into a distant stretch of the South Pacific Ocean round 10:51 a.m. EDT (1451 GMT).
With Pirs out of the best way, floor groups plan to examine the Earth-facing docking port on the Zvezda module utilizing cameras on the the area station’s Canadian-built robotic arm. The inspection will guarantee there’s no particles or obstructions on the docking mechanism, which was final used for a docking when Pirs linked up with the station in 2001.
If groups discover any issues, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov may head exterior the area station on a spacewalk later this week to wash up the docking system.
The Nauka module is about to hyperlink up with the area station Thursday at 9:25 a.m. EDT (1325 GMT).
After docking of the Nauka module, Russian cosmonauts plan a collection of as much as 11 spacewalks later this yr and early subsequent yr to outfit the outside new lab factor.
As soon as totally operational, Nauka will accommodate dockings of Progress resupply ships, Soyuz crew capsules, and Russia’s new Prichal node module later this yr.
Inside Nauka, Russian cosmonauts will set up and activate scientific experiments, put together a brand new oxygen technology system for operation, arrange a brand new bathroom, and prepared a brand new sleeping compartment for an additional Russian crew member on the area station.
The Nauka module, additionally known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, carries the European Robotic Arm, which was accomplished 15 years in the past to await a chance to fly to the area station.
At 20.2 metric tons (44,500 kilos), the Nauka module is greater than 5 occasions the mass of the Pirs docking compartment. Nauka extends about 43 ft (13 meters) lengthy, which can make it one of many largest modules on the Worldwide House Station.
The bus-sized Nauka analysis module has been in growth for greater than 20 years, initially as a backup for Russia’s Zarya module, the primary factor of the area station to launch in 1998. Russia mentioned in 2004 that the backup to Zarya can be transformed right into a lab module for launch in 2007.
However delays have stored the Russian lab on the bottom for years. Engineers at Energia, the prime contractor for Russia’s human spaceflight program, discovered flaws within the module’s propulsion system in 2013. The module was returned to Khrunichev, its producer, for prolonged repairs that delayed Nauka’s launch a number of extra years.
Nauka is the primary pressurized module to be added to the area station because the arrival of the small Bigelow Expandable Exercise Module in 2016. The final Russian pressurized factor of any dimension launched to the area station was the Rassvet docking module, which was delivered by a NASA area shuttle in 2010.
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