According to a ISS operations/launch manifest on May 2, 2014 the Progress docked to Pirs, will undock, with Pirs attached to deorbit it.

May 2 - Progress M-22M undocking with Pirs module (from Zvezda nadir)

Now May 4th, Nakua (MRM-2 a second Russian segment Modular Research Module) is set to dock where Pirs was.

May 4 - Nauka docking (to Zvezda nadir)

So Zvezda has 4 docking ports (sort of). One to itself. One to Zarya. One up/zenith, one facing down/nadir.

Zarya, only has 3 (They removed two during its initial modifications) It has the two obvious ones, one to itself, one to the PMA to Unity, and a nadir (earth facing) port with Rassvvet (MRM-1) attached.

It helps if you look at this picture, of a day, that the ISS was very occupied by vehicles.

Six visiting vehicles at the ISS

Does Zarya have a zenith docking port? Seems like it would make more sense to move Pirs (which has an airlock) to the Zarya zenith port, and make room for a fifth Russian segment docking port.


1 Answer 1


Why is the Pirs docking module being discarded?

The head of RKK Energia says Pirs lives longer than 2x of its initial planned resource.

The wonderful ideas like "Save Pirs!" don't seem to be based on solid grounds. MLM has incompatible docking adapters. Even if it had compatible docking adaptors it'd be cheaper to bring there another Pirs than to save the current one with any complex schemes.

For example, one of the (seemingly obvious) ideas, is to use the Progress spacecraft needed to deorbit Pirs to just detach it from ISS, and fly near the station indefinitely until MLM or MLM+UM arrives. Then dock it back using the same Progress. The problem with this solution is that for deorbiting a regular Progress can be used.

enter image description here

While for docking back, it needs to be like the one that brought Pirs to the ISS. Otherwise the thrusters are too far away from the center of mass for fine maneuvering needed for the docking:

enter image description here

In other words, to keep Pirs afloat that way one needs to spare another customized Progress. And if that's a customized Progress, then there should be some design process to bring it to ISS without Pirs (with some other payload).

Another, (seemingly simpler and even more seemingly obvious) idea is to hold it with Canadarm and dock back when possible. It faces obvious problems of not having the manipulator attachment fixture on Pirs, the manipulator ocuppied indefinitely. And less obvious problems, such as powering Pirs off indefinitely and then back on.

After considering all different scenarios and costs of saving Pirs, it was decided to deorbit the old tin. (This is rumours though, I can't cite any reliable sources, other than publicly stated deorbiting plans)

Does Zarya have a zenith docking port?

No it doesn't.

It was planned initially, but then the plan has changed and a spherical cover has been placed instead.

See this scheme on the cosmonaut training center site.

enter image description here

Number twenty two says " Пассивный стыковочный агрегат" that is "Passive docking unit".

While number five says "Стыковочно-такелажный узел ERGF для захвата американским манипулятором." that is "ERGF docking and rigging adaptor for American manipulator".

Here you can see it from a better position: enter image description here

And this is how it works:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ That makes sense. I had wondered, if they built Zvezda with 4 ports, why not the same on Zarya. (Especially after being spoiled by Mir with a 6 port docking node). $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Oct 2, 2013 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ There will be spherical Uzlovoy Module i.e. Hub Module or Nodal Module. It will be attached to MLM from nadir, and it will have six ports like the one on Mir. The plan is to deliver it on a specialized Progress later. Search google images for "uzlovoy module". $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Oct 2, 2013 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ The artist view of MLM with Uzlovoy Module and some more modules can be found here: russianspaceweb.com/images/spacecraft/opsek/… $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Oct 2, 2013 at 21:28

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