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Russia's ISS Multipurpose Laboratory Module launches after years sitting on a shelf, immediately runs into issues


Russia's latest contribution to the International Space Station (ISS), successfully launched yesterday, but appears to have run into problems on orbit.

Dubbed "Nauka" (meaning "Science"), the Multipurpose Laboratory Module predates the ISS itself. Construction started in the late 1990s, and continued in stops and starts during the 21st century.

Launch dates for the lab came and went over subsequent decades. The European Space Agency (ESA) provided a robot arm for the module, which sat in storage as the years passed and the delays piled up. Problems with the propulsion system, contamination in the tanks, and expiration of components all contributed to the arrival date at the ISS moving further into the future.

It was therefore with considerable relief that the hefty module was finally launched into orbit at 14:58 UTC yesterday, 21 July 2021, atop a Proton-M, the first of the year for the heavy-lifter. The Proton-M has ...


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