MLM Nauka development in 2012
During 2012, the assembly of the MLM module was finally completed and in December it was shipped from GKNPTs Khrunichev rocket plant, RKZ, in Moscow to RKK Energia in Korolev for final tests before its planned trip to the Cosmodrome Baikonur for tests.
The MLM module arrives at RKK Energia on December 14, 2012.
On June 26, 2012, GKNPTs Khrunichev announced that the company had continued the production of the flight version of the MLM module. By that time, specialists completed the installation of the docking port on the transfer chamber, while the laying of the pipe lines and X-ray checks of the pressurized interfaced was ongoing, the company said. Also, mockups of various hardware had been installed inside the module to allow the laying of the onboard cable network. Khrunichev also completed testing of the thermal control system and began pneumatic tests of the pneumatic and hydraulic systems.
According to the company, the assembly of the flight-worthy module was expected before the end of 2012, followed by the transfer of the spacecraft to RKK Energia. The announcement also said that the launch of the module was planned for 2013.
On September 21, GKNPTs Khrunichev completed assembly of the payload section for the MLM mission, including the module itself, its protective fairing and an adapter ring designed to serve as an interface between the spacecraft and the Proton launch vehicle. The operation would test all mechanical interfaces, check electrical systems and pneumatic pushers, the company announced. This work would be followed by the weighing of the module and vacuum tests.
A fully assembled flight version of the module would then be shipped to RKK Energia for further electrical tests, GKNPTs Khrunichev said. As of the beginning of September, the transfer of the spacecraft to RKK Energia was promised to take place in October, or two months behind a previous schedule, however it had to be delayed even further.
A critical transfer from the Moscow's district of Fili to Korolev started on the night from December 6 to December 7, 2012. From December 7 to December 14, a joint team of specialists from GKNPTs Khrunichev and RKK Energia unloaded the module from a railway car and installed it at the processing site in the main hall of the RKK Energia's Checkout and Testing Building, KIS, the company announced. According to RKK Energia, the upcoming work included autonomous and integrated tests of the module, including joint trials with ground equivalents of other Russian ISS modules as well as Progress and Soyuz transport ships. The MLM module was christened Nauka a Russian word for "science."
According to a schedule approved by RKK Energia leadership on October 24, 2012, the launch of the MLM Nauka module was scheduled for Dec. 11, 2013, enabling a docking of the spacecraft to the Zvezda Service Module on the Russian segment of the station nine days later. However according to industry sources at the time, MLM was not likely to lift off before 2014.
By the start of 2013, the launch of the MLM module was re-scheduled to April and then to June 2014.
The MLM module is carried by carried by a crane at GKNPTs Khrunichev in Moscow circa 2012. Click to enlarge. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev
A photo released on Sept. 3, 2012, shows MLM (FGB-2) module finally getting its solar panels. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev
Photos released on Sept. 24, 2012, show fit checks of the FGB-2 module and its launch vehicle fairing. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev
The MLM Nauka module arrives at RKK Energia's Checkout and Testing Station, KIS, in Korolev on Dec. 14, 2012. Credit: RKK Energia