The Russian Zvezda service module successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on 26 July, paving the way for the start of manned operations and scientific research on the station.


Zvezda, launched on a Proton booster from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 12 July, docked with the Russian Zarya node of the ISS, which is attached to USISS module Unity. The docking was two years later than the original ISS schedule. Zvezda's data management system, supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA), was due to take over control of the three-element ISS three days after the docking following the completion of testing of mechanisms holding the three modules together to ensure that seals are tight.

The data management system was developed and manufactured by a European space consortium led by Astrium. The system was supplied to Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos in return for two flight-unit docking systems for use with ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle supply craft, which will be launched to the ISS on an Ariane 5 from 2004. Similar data management systems are being developed by the European consortium for later ISS elements, including the European space laboratory Columbus.

The Zvezda module will provide the early living quarters for the ISS crew, as well as being the main docking port for Russian Progress cargo resupply vehicles, and providing early propulsive attitude control and re-boost capabilities for the space station.

A Russian Progress supply mission is set to be launched to the ISS this month, followed by two US Space Shuttle missions in September and October, to prepare the space station for the arrival of the first crew, which will be launched on a Russian Soyuz in late October.

Source: Flight International