Russian Stuff

#1
Yazata Offline
Today the Russians successfully launched their new years-in-development "nauka" ('science') laboratory module to the International Space Station atop one of their Proton-M expendable heavy lift rockets. This rocket is much bigger than their Soyuz, but not flown nearly as often because it's expensive.

Some Roscosmos video of the launch is here.

https://twitter.com/roscosmos/status/141...9045984270

An interesting thing to note is the big brown vapor cloud when the engines light up. I believe that this is nitrogen tetroxide hypergolic igniter fluid. Very nasty stuff.

Here's a Roscosmos diagram of what's inside nauka. It's a really big thing to launch into orbit at one go.

When it arrives at the ISS, it will replace the Russians' existing Pir module.


[Image: Screen-Shot-2021-07-21-at-08.28.19.png]

[Image: Screen-Shot-2021-07-21-at-08.28.19.png]



Roscosmos photo of today's launch. (nice towers, but Elon's is way better.)


[Image: E62GT0wWEAIR056?format=jpg&name=4096x4096]

[Image: E62GT0wWEAIR056?format=jpg&name=4096x4096]

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#2
Yazata Offline
Bad news. Russian space geeks who usually have good inside information are reporting propulsion problems on nauka. Apparently the space station module is in a stable orbit, but the first of several orbit matching maneuvers to enable it to match orbits with the International Space Station has been postponed while they work an issue. At least superficially, this is worryingly similar to the first Boeing Starliner unmanned test flight that made it to orbit courtesy of ULA, but due to botched software proved unable to perform the maneuvers necessary to match orbits with the ISS.

This nauka is a one-off Space Station segment and they don't have a spare one sitting around. So this one has to work, or else it's the better part of ten years work down the drain and billions of Rubles. (I hope that they haven't already jettisoned the older Pir module that they want to replace.)

https://twitter.com/RussianSpaceWeb/stat...5691839488

Russian space geek Anatoly Zak's artists conception of nauka conducting one of the problematic orbit correction burns.


[Image: E62XT5PWUAEkoY6?format=jpg&name=900x900]

[Image: E62XT5PWUAEkoY6?format=jpg&name=900x900]



Edit -- Talk in Moscow (unofficial among space enthusiasts with good sources) is that the difficulty is with the Kurs docking system, perhaps (this is unclear) with unfolding and deploying the specialized radar antenna that controls it. Other than that, nauka seems to be healthy, good electrical levels etc.
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#3
Yazata Offline
Latest reports are that nauka has received a new software upload and (it isn't clear about this one) a test orbit maneuver burn has been conducted. Tone in Moscow seems to be concern but not panic, they seem to believe that they are on top of the situation, whatever that situation is. It isn't clear whether they are solving the problem or trying to work around it. What little detail there is, is coming from Russian space geeks with Roscosmos connections. Roscosmos isn't saying very much officially and what they do say is kind of cryptic (might be translation issues).

https://twitter.com/roscosmos/status/141...7467350019

The Russian reads (courtesy of Google Translate): "The test firing of the propulsion system of the # Science module and the orbit formation impulse were worked out in a regular manner." The Russian geeks seem to think "worked out" means 'performed' and not just 'calculated'.

But removal of the existing Pirs module to free up a spot on the International Space Station has been pushed back a day to Saturday July 24. (It should be streamed on nasa-tv if it happens.)
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#4
Yazata Offline
Good news! The Russians seem to have resolved whatever their problem was (it was never clear). They have not only conducted the test maneuvering engine fire referred to in the last post, they have also conducted a more substantial orbit matching burn. The remaining burns will come tomorrow. Pirs is still set to be unplugged from the rest of the Space Station on Saturday, so Roscosmos is apparently confident of their ability to get the new module there.

http://en.roscosmos.ru/22238/

I'm happy! I want this new Russian science laboratory-module to work, it will add a lot of capability to the International Space Station. It's the first brand new Space Station module in at least 10 years. Once it's up and running, everyone can use it for experiments, not just the Russians. (Do Russian modules have that new-car smell?)
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