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NASA and Russia negotiating to dock vehicles in the Russian ‘node’

NASA and Roscomos are negotiating an agreement to allow SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft to dock to the newly launched Russian Node module. The Russian Prichal (for Pier) was launched into orbit on November 24th. Later on 26th the Russian space agency made progress by resupplying a ship that delivered a decade-old module to the ISS. It didn’t need any crew for all this resupply and docking.

NASA wants SpaceX to be able to dock Dragons at new Russian space station ' node' - 24HTECH.ASIA

Image credits- Asia’s Tech News

Weighing almost four tons (3890kg/8600lb), Prichal is a 3.3m (~11ft) wide spherical pressure vessel whose sole purpose is to receive visiting cargo and crew vehicles and (in theory) enable further expansion of the space station’s Russian segment.

Aside from a significant amount of uncertainty about whether Russia will continue, Russia had difficulties continuing this mission Both the segments Prichal and Nauka made Ruoscosmos have a nightmarish experience. Nauka is a habitation and laboratory module that was originally planned to launch in 2007. After fourteen years they were finally able to launch the module. It was uncommanded thruster firing that had the possibility of destroying the entire station.

The work on Prichal began in 2007 where the launch was expected to happen by 2013. Later concerted development started in 2010 and the construction itself was done by 2014. Prichal was planned to be an extension of Nauka, however was forced to subsequently spend seven years in storage because of the delay. Finally being bought out of the closet, Prichal made it to the Russian Space Station in November 2021.

The odds of Prichal supporting another Russian ISS module are low, and the node is there for docking, which can easily be used by NASA to send SpaceX Dragon. There are five ports free that can be used by various spacecraft from cargo shops to fuel vehicles. The RIA, Space Crew, and state media outlet RIA are to use the western international docking system. Which would make it convenient for other spacecraft to dock into the system.

To allow a spacecraft fitted with IDA to dock to one of Prichal’s four radial “ASP-GB” ports, some kind of adapter would first need to be designed, constructed, launched, and installed. The specifics of that work are likely what’s being “negotiated” – namely how Roscosmos will be compensated for building its portion of that hypothetical adapter. NASA would likely procure and provide a new IDA port, while Russia would build the ASP-GB connection. As is common for the ISS program, compensation would likely come in the form of services rendered rather than a direct payment, with NASA perhaps launching an extra Russian cosmonaut or providing a larger portion of supplies for a set period.

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