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Nauka space module to be sent to Baikonur early next year — source

The launch of the module is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2020.

MOSCOW, October 17. /TASS/. Russia’s multifunctional laboratory module Nauka (Science), which is expected to be launched to the International Space Station in 2020, will be sent to the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on January 15, a rocket and space industry source told TASS on Thursday.

"At present, the departure is scheduled for January 15 next year," the source said, adding that the delivery schedule is now being coordinated.

Development of the Nauka module began back in 1995. It was initially planned to be launched to the ISS as a substitute for the Zarya module. The launch was repeatedly suspended. In December 2013, the module was sent back to the Khrunichev research center due to metal shavings discovered in its fuel system.

The module was supposed to be equipped with refitted fuel tanks from the Fregat booster. However, industry sources later told TASS that Nauka will be launched to the ISS with the original tanks.

The Nauka module has a launch weight of over 20 tonnes and can accommodate up to 3 tonnes of scientific equipment. The module is designed to provide a docking port for Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, ensure the pumping of fuel from Progress spacecraft’s fuel tanks to the ISS and take care of the station’s roll control with the help of engines. It will also house ERA (the European Robotic Arm), allowing to perform certain extravehicular activities without a spacewalk. The module is also expected to generate oxygen for six people and regenerate water from urine.

According to Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin, the launch of the module is scheduled for the summer of 2020.