Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

NASA looks forward to next month's Zvezda launch
Posted: June 30, 2000

After a week of comprehensive reviews by program managers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the next component of the International Space Station (ISS) is poised for launch to provide the early living quarters for the first permanent occupants of the orbital outpost.

An artist's concept of Zevzda (left) docked to the International Space Station. Photo: NASA
The Russian Zvezda Service Module was cleared for launch on July 12 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a General Designer's Review at RSC-Energia in Korolev, Russia on Monday, attended by NASA and Russian space managers and representatives of the European Space Agency, which provided the data management system for the new module.

An operations readiness review was completed yesterday at the Johnson Space Center in Houston with Russian space officials participating by videoconference, certifying the readiness of the module and U.S. and Russian flight control teams for the launch, currently scheduled at around 12:56 a.m. Eastern time on July 12 (4:56 GMT on July 12, 11:56 p.m. Central time on July 11) atop a modified Russian Proton rocket. A firm launch time will be set next week by Russian flight controllers following a final review of Service Module systems in Baikonur.

The July 12 launch is contingent on the successful launch July 5 of a second modified Proton from Baikonur, to place a Russian military communications satellite into orbit. Within a few hours of that launch, Zvezda will be fueled in a special facility at Baikonur and transported by railcar to the hangar housing its Proton rocket. Zvezda is scheduled to be mated to the Proton on July 6 and will be transported to Launch Pad 23 July 7 for final preparations.

U.S. and Russian flight controllers, meanwhile, continue to refine procedures and plans for the verification of the health of Zvezda's systems on orbit during the two-week free flight checkout planned for the module prior to the linkup of the ISS with Zvezda. The automatic rendezvous system on the ISSí Zarya module and a nearly identical system on Zvezda will be tested to insure that they will be able to provide navigational data to one another on the distance between the two space craft and the rate of closure during the final phase of rendezvous and docking. Other key systems, including Zvezda's motion control system, its solar arrays and its various telemetry hardware will be checked out prior to docking as well.

Within 72 hours after Zvezda is joined to the ISS, flight controllers will reconfigure the data processing path between the Service Module, Zarya and the Unity module, as Zvezda assumes control for the orientation of the Station, any reboost which may be required and primary communication responsibility.

Otherwise, the Station continues to operate well and flight controllers are not working any significant technical issues. The International Space Station is in an orbit with a high point of 245 statute miles and a low point of 230 statute miles (394 x 371 kilometers), circling the Earth every 92 minutes.