back to article Russia's ISS Multipurpose Laboratory Module launches after years sitting on a shelf, immediately runs into issues

Russia's latest contribution to the International Space Station (ISS), successfully launched yesterday, but appears to have run into problems on orbit. Dubbed "Nauka" (meaning "Science"), the Multipurpose Laboratory Module predates the ISS itself. Construction started in the late 1990s, and continued in stops and starts during …

  1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    I didn't know Boeing were eligible for contracts in Russia.

    1. JDPower666 Silver badge

      Totally unfair comment!

      This made it to space.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Russian Cloning

      You really do not understand how it works...

      US companies are constantly hacked by Russia/China or both at same time... stealing valuable production secrets...

      looks like it backfired this time... as it did when the Russians (then known as Soviets) cloned the b-29 bomber to make the TU-4

      ( great story how exact the copy was: )

      Posting anonymously as no desire to be target for Putin's thugs and have a bad case of 'food poisoning'

  2. tony72


    I thought the whole point of hypergolic fuel engines was that they're simple and reliable - no need to worry about ignition etc, just pump the propellants in and off it goes. Seems strange these guys are having so much trouble.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Strange

      Simple and reliable - but horrible to handle

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Strange

      Assuming that the factory remembered to fill them and nobody drained them to drink the stuff

      1. Chris 15


        Drinking Hypergolic fuel. What could possibly go wrong. I suppose that going blind would be the leasst of their concerns...

        Mine's a lager top with a shot of Red Fuming Nitric Acid then--------->

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Ahem

          >Drinking Hypergolic fuel. What could possibly go wrong

          May I remind you - Russians

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No problem!

    ” Other technical problems bedevilling the spacecraft include issues with the docking sensors, which could make for a sporty manual rendezvous”

    Any Elite vetetans out there?

    1. MonsieurTM

      Re: No problem!

      I used to be Elite in Elite!!! Me me! ME!!!!!

      1. PerlyKing

        Re: No problem!

        I think you mean "I used to be E L I T E", unless my memory is failing.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: No problem!

      Dangerous / Deadly in '84 (I can't remember which) and triple Elite in ED... I might need someone to translate the controls from Russian though!

    3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: No problem!

      Speaking as an Elite vet, you're going to be far better served by asking for a Kerbal space program veteran with 10 year experience in flying rendezvous orbits (usually by planning but mostly by the seat of their pants.)

      You see the latest batch of elite pilots have been spoiled by something called 'an autopilot' whereas us true kerbalnauts distain the use of such devices and thus able to calculate orbital mechanics in our heads.

      Plus we have a rather nifty universal docking claw...

      1. James O'Shea

        Re: No problem!

        Given the number of times that I, for one, have crashed various rockets in KSP, perhaps what's needed would be elite kerbelnauts...

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: No problem!

        Additionally, KSP veterans are used to problems like "whoops I forgot to add RCS to both ends of my vessel, so now it's unbalanced", which wasn't a problem in Elite.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: No problem!

          Yes, in Elite, you are a pilot with a sideline in trading/piracy/bounty hunting.

          In Kerbal, you are a spaceship designer, engineer and pilot and have to be "elite" in all three :-)

    4. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: No problem!

      Pretty sure I can dock anything as long as someone can find a midi version of The Blue Danube to play in the background.

    5. Spherical Cow Silver badge

      Re: No problem!

      ICYMI there is an Android port of the game called Alite (sic). Enjoy!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    30 stable orbits before crash landing...

    ...or about 48 hours. Sounds like a job for Bruce Willis - or possibly Flash Gordon.

    1. Timbo

      Re: 30 stable orbits before crash landing...

      "Sounds like a job for Bruce Willis - or possibly Flash Gordon"

      Just send up Team Daedalus - Clint will rewire the spare PAM rockets and get it into the right orbit...he's done it before !!

      Unless Russia has their own "Space Cowboys" available?

      1. PerlyKing

        Re: 30 stable orbits before crash landing...

        Leningrad Cowboys Go Space?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    30 orbits

    How many hours is that? I would imagine their initial orbital period would be maybe an hour or so. Not much time to come up with a plan B!

    1. MonsieurTM

      Re: 30 orbits

      IIRC ISS orbits at about 90mins-2hrs per orbit. The Nauka is lower, so the orbital period is shorter.....

      1. JDPower666 Silver badge

        Re: 30 orbits

        ISS is a 90 min orbit

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: 30 orbits

      All near-Earth orbits have period near 90 minutes. Much longer and you aren't near Earth. At least not at apogee. Any less and drag will bring you down into the atmosphere within at most a few revolutions.

  6. MonsieurTM

    Having followed the Nauka's issues for the past 20-odd years (sorry - ad coming: - not affiliated, but have paid for access & lots of other reading) the reporting by ElReg is very good and seems accurate as far as I can tell. (Well done - tricky topic!) They have a contingency (which involves docking with the ISS) that if the main engine completely fails then they can still proceed with the manoeuvring engines (DPK), but will be much slower. It seems that a software error (oh Spaghetti Monster, how we programmers fail!) caused the premature pressurisation of the propellant tanks which has meant that the over-pressure (not dangerous) has meant they cannot use the main engine (at the moment). This explains the wild pressure readings received regarding the tank pressure. They seem convinced there is no leak. They are performing a test burn early this evening and if that succeeds then they can progress & move to a higher orbit to plan the much slower rendezvous with the ISS. There is apparently enough fuel for two docking attempts (though how much for rendezvous I do not know). The main issue is to get it to a higher orbit I think. Sadly due to the previous contamination of the tanks, refuelling the Nauke is probably off the cards, so sending a Progress to refuel it is most unlikely.

    But sending an unmanned Progress, or unmanned Soyuz (recall they can both be controlled remotely, from the ISS or ground) to provide extra propulsion might work, if they can a) stabilise the orbit of Nauka and b) send one up in time. (They may not have a "hot spare" and want about the launcher - that too. The crash programmes of the 60s are long gone. I'd imagine to launch such an rescue would take about 3-4 days if they had everything at hand and worked 24hrs a day in multiple shifts (not unknown) as finessing, placing on the pad & fuelling of either takes time... By which time the Nauka would have long since burnt up: recall 30 orbits at about 2hrs per orbit is 60hrs. The clock is ticking and they are under the hammer (and possibly sickle!)......

    1. MonsieurTM

      BTW: it is standard procedure for the Russians to place items "just-sub-orbital" in case they fail to prevent them lurking around, defunct in orbit, so the orbit will automatically decay and the lost item burn up. (Or more perhaps a hold-over from Cold-War paranoia and fear that the Decadent Capitalists might somehow "steal" their secrets.)

      1. asphytxtc

        Great additional info here, thanks! Super interesting to read

    2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Excellent post - thanks

  7. Vulch

    As it's not raining (yet)

    There's an ISS pass due over the UK starting just after 22:50* this evening. Watching last night I saw the ISS itself with two objects chasing it, one of those was Nauka and I suspect the other was the second stage of the Proton.

    * Use something like Heavens Above to get exact timings for your location.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: As it's not raining (yet)

      Or which will email you about sighting opportunities.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: As it's not raining (yet)

      Git!! I just happened to be reading this at 22:50 so quickly rushed outside to have a look and it's fookin' cloudy!!! As usual!!. Bloody typical!!!

      Have one of these any anyway -------->

  8. G2

    "Nauka" = "neukъ" ?

    in many eastern-european languages that have words with proto-slavic etymological roots in the term "neukъ" the adopted word usually has some meaning of "ignorant, uneducated, unschooled"


    in Bulgarian неук (neuk), Macedonian неук (neuk, “ignorant”), Serbo-Croatian neuk (“ignorant”), Serbo-Croatian nieuk (“dunce”).

    or in Romanian: năuc (m or n) (feminine singular năucă, masculine plural năuci, feminine and neuter plural năuce) "disoriented", "confused", "bewildered"

    So, i think we have the wrong translation for "Nauka" ... instead of "science" it should be "disoriented". It's a very accurate description in this case.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: "Nauka" = "neukъ" ?

      > instead of "science" it should be "disoriented".

      There's a difference ?

      1. VeganVegan

        Re: "Nauka" = "neukъ" ?

        I resemble that! There is a big difference.

        Being disoriented means that there is a correct direction, it’s just that you don’t know which one is correct, at least temporarily.

        Being a scientist (and I consider myself one), most times it’s not even clear that there is a correct direction out of the predicament.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: "Nauka" = "neukъ" ?

          Well, they're Russian. Oriental. So "disoriented" could well mean "Westernised".

    2. Red Sceptic

      Re: "Nauka" = "neukъ" ?

      “So, i think we have the wrong translation for "Nauka" ... instead of "science" it should be "disoriented".”

      Wrong. Nauka == наука == science. Unambiguously.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Nauka" = "neukъ" ?

      Drop that 'neuk' in to google translate , set language to dutch... yeah, that. (warning NSFW!!!)

      1. ian 22

        Re: "Nauka" = "neukъ" ?

        The Dutch translation seems to be most appropriate in this case. Neuked in 60, 59, 58…

  9. Denarius Silver badge

    surely time for

    Elon to rescue with something to give it a shove

  10. Anonymous John

    As Russia has said it's withdrawing from the ISS in 2025 why add a module now?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      This module has been delayed for 14 years, it was planned to go up in 2001, so probably fulfilling a contract.

  11. Sunnylives

    So it's been 48 hours... Has it crashed yet?

    Or is this a cunning plan by Putin to wipe out a small country by 'accident'?

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