Russia's Proton-M carrier rocket Photograph:( AFP )
'Nauka' (Science) module will provide the astronauts at the ISS with additional storage space, technical equipment, including for water and air regeneration
Russia upgraded its capabilities on the International Space Station on Thursday after its new Nauka module successfully docked with it after a nervy journey from Earth.
A live broadcast from Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, showed the module, a multipurpose laboratory named after the Russian word for 'science', docking with the ISS at 1329 GMT, a few minutes later than scheduled.
Welcome to the International Space Station, #Nauka!— Ivan Vagner (@ivan_mks63) July 29, 2021
New module — new perspectives for the Russian cosmonautics. Moreover, an addition to the internal volume of the Russian segment of the @Space_Station.
I wish the crew good luck in integrating the module! pic.twitter.com/u5nvwPt0o6
Cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky took over manual control of the module in the final minutes of its approach towards the station.
It will now take several months and multiple spacewalks to fully integrate the module with the space station.
Since its launch last week from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, the module had suffered a series of glitches that had raised concerns about whether the docking procedure would go smoothly.
The launch was closely watched by the European Space Agency as the module was travelling with the European Robotic Arm, the first robot arm that will be able to work on Russia's ISS segment.
'Nauka' (Science) module will provide the astronauts at the ISS with additional storage space, technical equipment, including for water and air regeneration.
According to Russia's TASS news agency, 'Nauka' module also supplies the station with ERA manipulator which will allow astronauts to avoid some of the open-space missions.
It will also "improve the conditions of cosmonauts' stay, providing an additional toilet and a third sleeping location for the Russian side of the ISS.
The assembly of the 20-tonne Nauka multipurpose laboratory module started back in the 1990s but its launch, initially scheduled for 2007, has been continuously delayed.
The Nauka multipurpose laboratory module was conceived as early as the mid-1990s when it was intended as a back-up for the Russian control module Zarya.
It was later repurposed as a science module but joined a line-up of stagnating Russian space projects that have fallen victim to funding problems or bureaucratic procedures.
The launch of the 20-tonne Nauka, one of the largest modules on the ISS, was initially scheduled for 2007 but has been repeatedly delayed over various issues.
While last week's launch was succesful, Nauka experienced several "hiccups in orbit" during its eight-day journey to the ISS, the European Space Agency said.
Nauka replaces the long-serving Pirs docking module which joined the ISS in 2001 as a temporary addition but ended up staying in service for two decades.
Making room for Nauka, Pirs detached from the ISS earlier this week, burning up in the Earth's atmosphere and its remains falling into the Pacific Ocean.
Launched in 1998, the ISS is a multinational project and comprises two segments, a Russian one and another one used by the United States and other space agencies.
(With inputs from agencies)