Russia launches new docking module to the ISS

Russia on Wednesday launched a new docking module to the International Space Station (ISS), the Pritchal, the second such craft to orbit by Moscow this year after the Nauka which took off in July.

According to images broadcast live by the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the Soyuz 2.1B rocket carrying the Pritchal module took off on time at 13:06 GMT from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Pritchal (“Dock“in Russian) is to serve as a permanent mooring node for the Russian segment of the ISS alongside the Nauka (“Science“in Russian), a scientific module whose launch had been delayed by almost 15 years due to technical setbacks.

The trip of the Pritchal to the orbital laboratory should last two days and its automatic docking to the Nauka module is scheduled for Friday.

A complicated period for the ISS

In July, the docking of the Nauka was disrupted by the unexpected ignition of the module’s engines, which had moved the ISS out of its normal position for a few minutes.

The Russian space sector has suffered since the fall of the USSR from funding problems, bureaucratic mistakes and corruption scandals.

Several technical incidents have occurred in recent years both on regular flights and on launches of cargo vessels.

►►► To read : Panic aboard the International Space Station (ISS) threatened by an unprecedented cloud of debris, astronauts ready to flee

Moscow has nevertheless multiplied the announcements of ambitious projects, such as the construction of its own space station to replace the ISS or that of a lunar base with China.

Russia sparked controversy last week by pulverizing an old Soviet satellite in orbit with a test missile fire. A gesture denounced as dangerous by Washington.

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