New Russian Prichal node module heading to space station
The last planned Russian International Space Station module has launched toward the outpost for a scheduled docking in two days.
Called Prichal, which is Russian for berth, this small node module launched atop a Soyuz 2.1b rocket at 8:06 a.m. EST (13:06 UTC) Nov. 24, 2021, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is being carried to the ISS via a modified Progress service module called Progress M-UM and is scheduled to dock with the Nauka module at 10:26 a.m. EST (15:26 UTC) Nov. 26.
Prichal will be attached to the space-facing port of the Nauka module, which itself arrived at the ISS over the summer, replacing the two-decade-old Pirs docking compartment. This last Russian module launched 23 years and 4 days after the launch of the first module, Zarya.
Before Prichal can dock, however, Progress MS-17 will need to depart. That is scheduled for 6:21 a.m. EST (11:21 UTC) Nov. 25.
As a node module, it is primarily spherical in shape with a diameter of about 11 feet (3.3 meters). It has six ports overall — one active hybrid port on the side that connects to the Nauka module, four axial passive hybrid ports and one traditional “probe and drogue” port on the Earth-facing side to allow for the docking of Progress and Soyuz spacecraft.
The Earth-facing side will also provide fuel transfer capability between Soyuz and Progress and the Nauka module and the rest of the Russian segment.
Including the docking mechanisms, the overall length of Prichal is about 16 feet (4.9 meters).
Inside, the node module has a pressurized volume of about 670 cubic feet (19 cubic meters) with a mass of about 8,600 pounds (3,900 kilograms).
Together with the Progress M-UM service module, the spacecraft stretches about 23 feet (7 meters). Following its docking with the ISS, the service module is slated to undock on Dec. 21, 2021.
In January 2022, cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Petr Dubrov, members of the seven-person Expedition 66 ISS crew, are slated to perform a spacewalk out of the Russian Poisk module in order to run power and data cables between Prichal and Nauka to complete its integration to the outpost.
The first visiting vehicle slated to dock with Prichal is expected to be Soyuz MS-21 in March 2022, which will bring three Russian cosmonauts to the ISS for a six-month stay aboard the outpost.
Video courtesy of SciNews
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.