Russian lab module docks with space station after 8-day trip

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s long-delayed lab module successfully docked with the International Space Station on Thursday, eight days after it was launched from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

The 20-metric-ton (22-ton) Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, docked with the orbiting outpost in an automatic mode after a long journey and a series of maneuvers.

Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, confirmed the module’s contact with the International Space Station at 13:29 GMT.

The launch of Nauka, which is intended to provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew, had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.

In 2013, experts found contamination in its fuel system, resulting in a long and costly replacement. Other Nauka systems also underwent modernization or repairs.

Nauka became the first new module in the Russian segment of the station since 2010. After docking, it will require many maneuvers, including up to 11 spacewalks beginning in early September, to prepare it for operation.