Baikonur Continues to Prepare New ISS Module for Launch

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — At the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the next stage of preparation of the “Science” module for launch to the International Space Station has begun.  Preparations for factory proof tests are ongoing. 

After the module arrived at the assembly and testing building of site No. 254 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, work was carried out to prepare Nauka for reloading and installation at the workplace.

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Angara Launch Pad Arrives at Vostochny Cosmodrome

Inaugural Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — On September 3, 2020, the Angara space rocket complex launch pad and vacuum unit arrived at Amur Gas Processing Plant.

The operations to unload and transport the equipment from the temporary berth to the Vostochny Cosmodrome will be performed stage by stage and take four days. The vacuum unit of more than 9 meters in diameter, as well as the launch pad bulky parts will be moved on seven hauling rigs.

The transportation process will be done mostly at night not to interfere with road traffic. The convoy will cover the 60-kilometer route under escort. The launch pad elements will be unloaded at the storage site and will be installed in November 2020 in accordance with the schedule adopted by Roscosmos. The vacuum unit will be transported to the technical unit depot where it will be installed for future operation.

The launch pad and vacuum unit for Angara were sent to Vostochny on the Barents vessel from Severodvinsk on July 17, 2020. The bulky equipment weighing over 2,000 tons was delivered to the cosmodrome via the Northern Sea Route for the first time.

Russian Company to Provide Spacesuits for India

Indian astronaut in training. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Research, Development & Production Enterprise Zvezda under the contract of Glavkosmos with the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started manufacturing personal flight equipment for the Indian cosmonauts undergoing training in Russia.

“On September 3, Indian cosmonauts who have been training for a spaceflight in Russia under the contract of Glavkosmos, visited Zvezda, where their anthropometric parameters were measured for the subsequent production of spacesuits. The contract also provides for the production of individual seats and custom-made couch liners,” said CEO of Glavkosmos Dmitry Loskutov.

The contract for the production and delivery of individual equipment kits for Indian cosmonauts was signed by Glavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of ISRO on March 11, 2020. Indian cosmonauts have been training in Russia since February 10, 2020.

Exolaunch & Glavkosmos Announce Soyuz Launch Campaign for 15 Small Satellites

Rideshare mission (Credit: Exolaunch)

Exolaunch’s small satellite cluster of 15 microsatellites and cubesats ,“Wanderlust, Desire To Travel”, will launch on Soyuz as soon as September 2020.

Berlin, August 17th, 2020 – Exolaunch, a Berlin-based rideshare launch and deployment solutions provider, and Glavkosmos, a single operator of foreign commercial activities of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos, have initiated a launch campaign for 15 international small satellites onboard a Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle with a Fregat upper stage. As soon as September 2020, Soyuz-2 will deliver a cluster of small satellites into orbit as rideshare payloads on a Roscosmos mission.

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Russian Science Module Arrives at Baikonur for Tests

The Nauka module arrives at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — Today, August 19, 2020, the Nauka module, which is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in the spring of 2021, arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It took less than 10 days to transport the module to the cosmodrome; it took 14 cars to transport it and the necessary equipment.

At Baikonur, specialists from subsidiaries of the State Corporation Roscosmos – Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (the lead developer of the module) and the Center. Khrunichev (manufacturer) – will carry out factory control and measurement tests of the new module. They are the final stage in the manufacture of the product.

Tests should confirm the quality of the installation and assembly work carried out, the operability of the systems and the quality of the product as a whole. Usually this stage takes place at the manufacturing plant, but this time, according to the terms of the state contract and in accordance with the terms of reference, it will take place at the cosmodrome.

In the near future, Russian specialists at Baikonur will have to carry out a large amount of work related to electrical tests of the product (a total of 754 checks in accordance with the instructions), fitting of fasteners for large-sized objects, etc.

Indian Pilots Continue Spaceflight Training at Gagarin Center in Russia

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Indian cosmonauts are undergoing training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) following the courses of the general space training program and of the systems of the Soyuz MS crewed spacecraft. The completion of their training at GCTC is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.

The contract for the Indian candidates’ training for a spaceflight was signed between Gavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation on June 27, 2019.  On February 10, 2020, GCTC started training of the four Indian cosmonauts.

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Roscosmos Plans to Fly One Cosmonaut & Two Tourists on Soyuz Flights

Surrounded by medical personnel, seated from left to right are spaceflight participant Guy Laliberte, Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka and Expedition 20 Flight Engineer Michael Barratt.They had landed minutes before at 12:32 a.m. EDT aboard the Soyuz capsule near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009.

Editor’s Note: With the success of the SpaceX Crew Dragon mission, Russia will soon no longer be able to charge the United States more than $90 million per seat to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

To make up for the lost revenues, Roscosmos will resume flying tourists to ISS, a program that was suspended on 2009. Instead of flying two professionals and one tourist as it did during the 2000’s, Roscosmos wants to fly one cosmonaut and two tourists. The press release below, translated from Russian, describes the efforts to fly the missions safely.

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — In special classes with the participation of cosmonauts from Roskosmos, instructors of the Yu.A. Gagarin and representatives of the Rocket and Space Corporation Energia named after S.P. Korolev (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation), studies were carried out to identify the features that are possible during the implementation of the training program for the control of a manned spacecraft “Soyuz” by one cosmonaut. Subsequently, based on all comments and suggestions, a conclusion will be drawn up to organize the process of this preparation.

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Proton Launches 2 Communications Satellites

Proton rocket lifts off on July 31, 2020. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — Proton-M carrier rocket with the Briz-M booster successfully launched from pad No. 39 of Site No. 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The rocket carried two Russian telecommunication satellites Ekspress-80 and Ekspress-103 built by ISS Reshetnev company (part of Roscosmos). The launch and flight of the carrier rocket went nominally.

According to the flight sequence, 587 seconds after the liftoff the space head unit (booster and two spacecraft assembly) nominally separated from the third stage of the carrier rocket.

Further injection into orbit will be ensured by the booster service propulsion system. The total injection time from the liftoff and second satellite separation will reach 18 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds.

Proton-M carrier rocket is manufactured by Khrunichev Center (part of Roscosmos) and has been used to inject payloads into target orbits and departure trajectories as part of federal and commercial programs since 2001.

Throughout its operation, the rocket has undergone four deep modernizations allowing substantial improvement of its thrust to weight ratio and ecological characteristics while injecting heavy single and dual payloads.

Comet NEOWISE and the International Space Station

Comet NEOWISE and the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The International Space Station, with a crew of five onboard, is seen in this 10 second exposure above comet NEOWISE, Saturday, July 18, 2020 from Keys Gap, W.Va. The comet was discovered by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE, on March 27.

Since then, the comet — called comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE and nicknamed comet NEOWISE — has been spotted by several NASA spacecraft, including Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, and astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Onboard the International Space Station are Expedition 63 NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

NASA Television to Air Space Station Cargo Ship Launch, Docking

Progress 75 supply ship. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) beginning at 10 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 23.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 76 is scheduled to launch on a Soyuz rocket at 10:26 a.m. (7:26 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Rendezvous and docking coverage will begin at 1 p.m., with the Progress spacecraft expected to automatically link up to the Pirs docking compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 1:47 p.m.

Progress 76 will remain docked at the station for more than four months, departing in December for its deorbit into Earth’s atmosphere.

For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 240 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries.

Learn more about the International Space Station activities online, and by following @space_station and  @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook  and ISS Instagram accounts.

Russians Complete Vacuum Testing on New ISS Module

Nauka module undergoing vacuum testing. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Specialists at Khrunichev (part of Roscosmos State Corporation) completed the vacuum tests of a new Russian Nauka (“Science”) module of the International Space Station.

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Roscosmos Explores Making Angara Booster Reusable

Inaugural Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos continues working to create Angara carrier rocket modifications for the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

On June 30, 2020, amendments to the Amur design and development work state contract were introduced. The amendments include the works to modernize and further develop Angara family (Angara-A5M being a modernized version of the Angara-A5 rocket), as well as higher load capacity Angara-A5V rocket draft project (with hydrogen-oxygen powered third stage). Given that, the Angara-A5VM variant will be reviewed with reusable stages.

A number of design improvements will be implemented by 2024 when flight tests due to begin. Among them there are cutting the rocket structure weight, rocket engine and control system modernization, as well as employing modern production and testing technologies.

Working Remotely at the German Space Operations Center – New Plasma Crystal Experiments on ISS

PK-4 – a neon tube as an experimental reactor (Credit: MPE)
  • Important milestone – successful completion of the 10th measurement campaign with the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory on the ISS.
  • For the first time, the German Space Operations Center has taken over the scientific support of the PK experiments.
  • COVID-19 protection measures – DLR scientists from Oberpfaffenhofen maintain contact with the PK-4 Control Centre in Toulouse and the ISS.
  • Unique insights using PK-4 – plasma crystals can form in microgravity. The plasma particles behave like atoms and can be observed individually with the naked eye.

OBERFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — Under normal circumstances, the researchers would have gone to Toulouse, as only from there can they control the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory, which has been on board the International Space Station (ISS) since 2015. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has made travelling from Oberpfaffenhofen to the CADMOS Control Centre in France impossible. The experiments under microgravity conditions, which had taken months of preparation, were at risk of being cancelled.

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