The Russian Zvezda service module for the International Space Station (ISS) is on schedule to dock with the Zarya module later this month after a launch aboard a three-stage Proton booster on 12 July. The launch and entry into orbit of Zvezda is 26 months later than planned.


Docking with Zarya, which is attached to the US node module Unity, is due on 25 July, although Russian flight controllers may bring it forward by three days.

Just 15min after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Zvezda was in orbit with its antennas, solar arrays and other exterior equipment extended. The only glitch so far has been the suspicion that one of the two Toru docking antennas has not locked into its deploy position.

The problem is similar to that encountered with the Toru antenna which stuck on Zarya after its launch in October 1998. The fault is not expected to affect the mission because the Toru is an automated back-up docking unit to the primary Kurs system.

If the docking succeeds, a rapid series of flights to the ISS is planned. A Russian Progress cargo spacecraft is set for launch to the station on 6 August and the Space Shuttle Atlantis will follow on 8 September to open the doors to the living quarters. Space Shuttle Discovery will fly on 5 October to start station construction. The first crew is to arrive in November for a four-month stay.

Source: Flight International