VENERABLE SPACE STATION MODULE DEPARTS THE COMPLEX
The unpiloted Pirs Docking Compartment, attached to the ISS Progress 77 supply craft, undocked from the International Space Station July 23, completing 20 years of service at the outpost. Having served as a docking port for visiting vehicles and an airlock for Russian spacewalks, Pirs separated from the station while attached to Progress for a deorbit maneuver that would send the two craft into a destructive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. First launched in September 2001, Pirs’ departure clears the Earth-facing port of the station’s Russian segment for the arrival and automated docking July 29 of the “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module, which launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan July 21. In replacing Pirs, “Nauka” will serve as a laboratory research facility, a mutli-vehicle docking port and a new airlock for future Russian spacewalks.