More problems for Russian ISS module

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A Russian module intended for ISS, delayed for years because of technical problems, appears to have more issues that could delay it further, and might even prevent its launch entirely.

As its original 2007 launch date came and went, more and more delays pushed back the MLM’s launch. Then, in 2013, engineers discovered a leaking fueling valve as well as contamination in the propulsion system. At the time, reports said repairs and cleanup would take nearly 10 months.

Those months stretched into years. During the last four years, engineers have been working diligently replacing a jungle of pipelines, valves, and thrusters—part of Nauka’s sophisticated propulsion system—in an effort to get rid of the sawdust contamination introduced during botched upgrades. Because the spacecraft has stayed earthbound much longer than intended, parts of Nauka have also slipped out of warranty.

Fighting off political and logistical concerns surrounding the project—as well suggestions that they ground the MLM entirely until it can serve as the first module of Russia’s own space station—the tedious cleanup and repair effort entered its final phase this year, and the module finally appeared on track for launch at the end of this year or, at the very latest, the first half of 2018.

Then things went from bad to worse. In the past few weeks, engineers found the same contamination they’ve been fighting for years inside the module’s propellant tanks. The repair team tried to wash off these contaminants, but so far all efforts to cleanse the vessels have failed.

Read the whole article. The situation is not good.



  • LocalFluff

    “Sawdust”!? When I first heard of this elsewhere, I thought it was something exotic, like a new steel alloy that unexpectedly leaked Molybdenum when in contact with fuel. But they cannot clean out sawdust? Sawdust means wooden sawdust, right? Where did it come from? Is it leaking out of the managers’ skulls?

  • wayne

    Same with me— “sawdust?” Sawdust!?

    Maybe we should just launch a first strike on them and get it over with. I wonder if their ICBM’s actually work.

    I never tire of this video…

    ICBM launch animation.

  • Commodude

    Legacy of the Soviet Union…..they pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.

  • Gealon

    Perhaps the “saw dust” is in fact metal filings from cutting of the propulsion system plumbing during manufacture. I can’t imagine anyone could be stupid enough to actually be hacking away at a piece of wood in a clean room, where equipment like this really should be getting assembled. We’re talking about a country full of professionals who always get the job done.

  • LocalFluff

    The American way of dealing with sawdust in the rocket engine
    -How did it get here?

    “Because you are hungry”
    This is in the context of many of them being killed, soon in Vietnam. Being hungry is a luxury. Those in the graves aren’t hungry anymore. I’d vote for Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to be the educational department. If he’s still alive, and the Americans don’t care to use his talents anymore, he’s very welcome to Europe! He could pretty much pick what country he wants to be minister in and for what, as the sentiment over here looks like right now. People are getting tired of being collectively punished because some traitor hides donuts in his locker. We do gotta start helping the drill Sergeant, but then we need a drill sergeant to begin with.

  • LocalFluff

    The sawdust maybe comes from the Russians lightning up their rockets like fire crackers, with wooden matches (though no direct connection to the problems with this ISS module)

    Anatoly Zak:

  • Edward

    We had quite a discussion on rocket ignition, a year ago, starting from that very article. You may enjoy the discussion:

  • Edward

    Here is a video that explains how a Russian space station module’s thrusters work — this can provide you with an excuse for a direct connection to the problems with the ISS module: (watch the next 2-1/2 minutes)

  • @ Wayne:

    I’ve never seen that animation. I knew generally how ICBM’s work, but hadn’t seen a ‘flight’. Ending is a bit disappointing, but as you say: ‘Good stuff’ (unless you can see the RV).

  • wayne

    That video-animation was based on an actual test, and it was extensively photographed in real-time. (I haven’t been able to re-locate the original Northrup Grumman short itself.)
    This version has more actual film of the initial launch & the RV impacts, ( but was also strung together from multiple sources.)

    Minuteman III Missile Launch –
    California To Kwajalein Atoll

  • Pzatchok

    I wonder if this could be a good opportunity for Space X to make an offer to buy the module and finish it.
    Use it as a basis for private space testing. A base for a growing space station. Something for Bigalow to attach to.

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