"There is contact!" - Russia's new Nauka space module docks with ISS

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia upgraded its capabilities on the International Space Station on Thursday after its new Nauka module, set to serve as a research lab, storage unit and airlock, successfully docked with it after a nervy journey from Earth.

A live broadcast from Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, showed the module, a multipurpose laboratory named after the Russian word for 'science', docking with the ISS at 1329 GMT, a few minutes later than scheduled.

"According to telemetry data and reports from the ISS crew, the onboard systems of the station and the Nauka module are operating normally," Roscosmos said in a statement.

"There is contact!!!" Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, wrote on Twitter moments after the docking.

Since it launch last week from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, the module had suffered a series of glitches that had raised concerns about whether the docking procedure would go smoothly.

Thursday's development suggests Russia is interested in maintaining the ISS despite previous comments from Rogozin who last month suggested Moscow would withdraw from it in 2025 unless Washington lifted sanctions on the space sector that he said were hampering Russian satellite launches.

Launched in 1998, the ISS is a multinational project and comprises two segments, a Russian one and another one used by the United States and other space agencies.

"After its commissioning, the Russian segment will receive additional room for arranging workplaces, storing cargo and housing water and oxygen regeneration equipment," Roscosmos said its statement.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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