The Russian multipurpose laboratory Nauka on Thursday successfully docked to the International Space Station (ISS), where it will take the place of the Pirs module, which was sunk in the Pacific Ocean after 20 years of service.
The docking of the new module to the orbital platform after eight days of autonomous flight took place at 13.29 GMT as the ISS flew over eastern Kazakhstan, according to the live broadcast of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
Nauka, equipped with the robotic arm of the European Space Agency (ESA), lifted off for the ISS on July 21, after a delay of 14 years.
Its launch was originally scheduled for 2007, but has been repeatedly postponed since then.
The Nauka is the first module Russia has sent to the ISS since 2010.
The Russian laboratory — 13 meters long, 4.2 meters in diameter at its widest point and with a pressurized volume of 70 cubic meters — has five docking ports and its own propulsion system.
Russia expects to significantly expand the research capacity of its section of the ISS with the arrival of the new module, which is equipped with 30 workplaces — 16 on the outside and 14 on the inside — and will enable new experiments in several fields.
Nauka docked to the ISS on the first attempt, despite concerns about a problem with the module's engines.
On Thursday, Roscosmos reported that experts were verifying that the equipment on board the multipurpose laboratory was functioning properly, after experiencing issues in the ignition of its engines.
But the Russian space agency later said the tests of Nauka's propulsion system were proceeding normally. EFE