Further launch delays for Russia’s next ISS module & space telescope

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The race to be last! Russia today announced that the launch of both its next ISS module as well as a new space telescope will be delayed until 2019.

The ISS module, Nauka, is years behind schedule, and is presently being cleaned of contamination in its fuel system that was found several years ago.

“Repairs of the MLM Nauka are taking longer than expected, and the deadlines are yet unclear. This means it will not be brought to Baikonur any time soon, and the launch will be postponed until 2019,” the source said.

It was reported earlier that the mission would be delayed for six months. “The delivery of the MLM Nauka to the Baikonur cosmodrome has been moved from September to late 2018. Hence, the module’s launch to the ISS has been provisionally delayed for another six months,” the source said. The launch was scheduled for September 2018 with the possible alternative date in March 2019.

The article also notes delays for Spekr-RG high-energy space telescope until 2019. The article might also describe delays for another satellite, though the writing is unclear.

Nauka was first built in the 1990s as a backup for ISS’s first module. In the early 2000s Russia decided to reconfigure it and fly it to ISS, with its launch scheduled for 2007. This means its launch is now going to be twelve years behind schedule.

It sure does appear that Russia’s Roscosmos is competing with NASA to see which government agency can delay its missions the longest. In fact, for fun, let’s put together the standings!

  • Nauka: 12 years behind schedule (originally scheduled for 2007, now 2019)
  • James Webb Space Telescope: 9 years behind schedule (originally scheduled for 2011, now 2020)
  • SLS/Orion: 8 years behind schedule (originally scheduled for 2015, now 2023)

Stay tuned. This race to the bottom is far from over. NASA could still win, especially because it has more than one project in the running.



  • All humor involves pain, and Americans are having a laugh at our own (great) expense. So in this race we should root for the ‘winners’ to ‘lose’ (launch first)?

  • J Maier

    Is this article discussing Mars mission or not? If so, the Russians are a decade behind.

  • Localfluff

    As for Russian space failures, one can note the Progress’ collision with MIR in the 1990s. They shut of the radar because of earlier problems with it, and guided it by eye on a screen while another cosmonaut tried to measure the distance to the Progress with a handheld laser pointer through a window. They had to cut all power supply to seal off the leaking module that was hit. At another occasion, the flammable chemicals used to absorb CO caught fire. One cosmonaut had to hold another to battle the reaction effect of the fire extinguisher. It’s even more of an adventure for the Russians than for others!

    I think it’s noteworthy that there after all are margins for mishaps in space. See also Apollo 13 and not least the several Japanese robotic near failures that have been largely rescued, Akatsuki at Venus most recently. There are second chances in space.

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