In future, up to five Russian spaceships will be able to dock at the same time on the International Space Station ISS. A rocket with the new module called “Pritschal” (landing stage) was launched on Wednesday from the Baikonur spaceport in the steppe of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. Live images from the Roscosmos space agency showed the Soyuz 2.1b launch vehicle taking off. The flight to the ISS should take a good two days.
The approximately 4.6-ton module is said to be the last to be brought to the outpost of humanity by the Russian side. The German spaceman Matthias Maurer is also there. Talks are currently ongoing for a longer service life of the station beyond 2024.
ISS shows signs of age
The now 23-year-old station recently had to struggle with problems several times. In August of this year, cosmonauts found new cracks in the ISS. It is not known whether this causes air to escape, but according to Russian data it suggests that the cracks will spread over time.
The new Russian spaceship “Orjol” (Adler) – the successor to the “Soyuz” – will in future also be able to dock at the spherical module, which is equipped with five docking points. It should be tested from 2023. The new jetty will be attached to the Russian science module “Nauka”, which was brought to the ISS in late summer, on the Russian segment. For this purpose, field missions by cosmonauts are planned.
Unplanned turning maneuvers
Nauka had initially caused problems. After the docking maneuver of the Russian research module, the ISS was rotated after a serious malfunction when the engines of the module suddenly fired. This rotated the space station one and a half times. After corrections to the ISS’s own engines, the position of the station was corrected again. The crew of the ISS was not in danger.
Last month, malfunctioning Russian engines turned the International Space Station again on an unplanned basis. Russian officials had carried out an engine test on the Soyuz spacecraft MS-18 before it returned to Earth. However, the engines unexpectedly continued to fire after the test was completed. This process was much less serious and after 30 minutes the station was under control again.