The International Space Station (ISS) will soon be receiving an upgrade, with the largest module ever launched to the station set to be sent into orbit this week. The Nauka module, funded by the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will dock with the nadir port of the Russian segment of the station and will be used as a science facility, a docking port, and a spacewalk airlock.
NASA will be livestreaming both the launch of the module this week as well as its eventual docking with the ISS, and we’ve got all the details on how you can watch along at home.
What the launch involves
The Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module undergoes final processing at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in preparation for its launch to the International Space Station on a Proton rocket. Roscosmos
The module will be launched on a three-stage Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, July 23.
To make space for the new module, the old Pirs docking module will be removed. To do this, on Friday, July 23, the uncrewed Progress 77 cargo spacecraft will dock with Pirs, and then, still attached to the Pirs module, will undock from the station. Both the Progress 77 and the Pirs module will then be placed into a deorbit maneuver so they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
After a testing period, the new Nauka module will then dock with the station.
“The Nauka module will be located at the nadir port of the Zvezda Service Module and is intended for the implementation of the Russian program of scientific and applied research and experiments,” Roscosmos said in a statement.
“After the commissioning of the new module, the Russian segment will receive additional volumes for the workplaces and storage of cargo, places for water and oxygen regeneration equipment, improve the conditions of cosmonauts’ stay, as well as increase the safety of the entire ISS crew.”
How to watch the launch and docking
The launch and docking of the new module will be livestreamed by NASA. You can watch along at home, either by using the video embedded at the top of this page or by heading to NASA’s website.
Coverage of the launch begins on Wednesday, July 21 at 10:30 a.m. ET (7:30 a.m. PT), with the launch scheduled for 10:58 a.m. ET (7:58 a.m. PT).
Once the module arrives at the space station, it will spend eight days in which is called “free-flight,” without docking with the ISS, to allow engineers on the ground to check that everything is operating as it should. If all is well, the module will then attach to the space station in an automated procedure.
The docking of the module to the ISS is scheduled for Thursday, July 29. Once again, the event will be livestreamed by NASA, with coverage beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET (5:30 a.m. PT).