The latest addition to the International Space Station (ISS), a Russian-made Prichal docking module, has been successfully launched into space. Once docked, it will accommodate up to five other modules or spacecraft.
A Progress M-UM cargo vessel, carrying the Prichal module, was launched Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan. The spacecraft has been successfully injected into low earth orbit and is currently heading towards the ISS.
The new docking module is expected to be attached to the ISS on Friday. As the ship carrying the Prichal heads towards the station, its crew prepares to receive the new module.
Another Progress vessel currently docked at the station is expected to decouple from the ISS on Thursday, carrying a temporary passive docking tool currently attached to the Russian Nauka module.
The temporary docking tool will be replaced by Prichal, which is essentially a large sphere with six docking ports. Once set up, Prichal will be able to accommodate up to five other modules and spacecraft at the same time.
The new module replaces the obsolete Russian-made Pirs docking module, which had served as the main gateway to the ISS since 2001. The old module was undocked from the station in July before Nauka’s long-awaited arrival – a laboratory, a workshop and a housing module.
Pirs was desorbed soon after, disintegrating in the Earth’s atmosphere over the South Pacific, becoming the first permanent ISS module to be decommissioned.
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