Moscow, Jul 21 (EFE).- Russia on Wednesday launched its multipurpose scientific module Nauka with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Robotic Arm (ERA), which will help the cosmonauts on board the International Space Station perform their scientific tasks.
The Proton-M carrier rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 14.58 GMT as planned as the ISS was flying over northeastern China, according to a live feed from Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.
The launch of the Nauka 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 multipurpose science module will arrive at the ISS after an eight-day journey and will dock with the orbital platform at 13.26 GMT on July 29.
To make room on the ISS, the Russian Pirs module — which has been used for docking Soyuz spacecraft and Progress cargo ships and the departure of cosmonauts to outer space — will first be sunk on July 23 in the Pacific Ocean.
The Nauka module is designed for Russian scientific programs, especially applied research and experiments.
With the arrival of the module, the Russian segment of the ISS will receive additional space for cosmonauts’ work and to store materials, food and equipment for water and oxygen regeneration.
The cosmonauts will also have a second toilet and a cabin for a third crew member.
The ERA, which is similar to a human arm and is the first robot capable of “walking” around the Russian segment of the ISS, will help cosmonauts with station maintenance.
Measuring more than 11 meters long, it has the ability to anchor itself to the station and move back and forth on its own between fixed base points.
The arm will act as a tool to transfer small payloads directly from inside the ISS to outside, without the need for spacewalks, but will also assist in spacewalks by transporting cosmonauts like a crane. EFE