Encyclopedia Astronautica
ISS Zarya

Zarya FGB
Credit: Energia
FGB in shop
Russian propulsion module to be first element of International Space Station.
Credit: NASA
Russian manned space station. One launch, 1998.11.20, Zarya.

The Russian Zarya FGB space tug was the cornerstone of the new International Space Station since it acted as an adapter between the US and Russian-built ISS segments and also provided some propulsion and propellant storage capabilities. It was closely based on the older Russian TKS spacecraft design that was intended as a ferry for the Almaz military station. The United States paid $220 million for the FGB (vs. $450 million for Lockheed's rejected 'Bus-1' option) and Khrunichev successfully completed the project on schedule and within budget. However, the launch had to be delayed by 17 months to November 1998 because the Russians were unable to complete their own ISS Zvezda service module on time.

The Russian-built propulsion module that was the first element of the International Space Station. Launched by a three-stage Proton rocket, the Zarya control module, also known by the technical term Functional Cargo Block and the Russian acronym FGB provided the station's initial propulsion and power. The 20,000 kg pressurized module was launched on Nov. 20 1998 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

The module was named Zarya, meaning "sunrise", in tribute to the new beginning in space that would be ushered in by the its launch as the first component of the International Space Station (and to finally use the name the engineers wanted to call the first Russian space station, Salyut 1, 28 years earlier). Its launch marked the beginning of an international venture of unprecedented scale.

Less than two weeks after Zarya reached orbit, the Space Shuttle Endeavour rendezvoused with it and attached the U.S.-built Unity connecting module. Zarya was to provide orientation control, communications and electrical power attached to Unity for several months before the launch of the third component, a Russian-provided crew living quarters and early station core known as the Service Module. The Service Module would enhance or replace many functions of the Zarya. Later in the station's assembly sequence, the Zarya module was to be used primarily for its storage capacity and external fuel tanks.

Zarya's solar arrays and six nickel-cadmium batteries provided an average of 3 kilowatts of electrical power. Each of the two solar arrays was 11 m long and 3 m wide. Using the Russian Kurs system, the Zarya would perform an automated and remotely piloted rendezvous and docking with the Service Module in orbit. Its docking ports would accommodate Russian Soyuz piloted spacecraft and unpiloted Progress resupply spacecraft. The module was modified to allow it to be refueled by a Progress vehicle docked to its down-facing port if necessary. The module's 16 fuel tanks held more than 6 metric tons of propellant. The attitude control system for the module included 24 large steering jets and 12 small steering jets. Two large engines were available for reboosting the spacecraft and making major orbital changes.

After reaching the initial elliptical orbit and separating from the Proton's third stage, a set of pre-programmed commands automatically activated the module's systems and deployed the solar arrays and communications antennae. On ensuing days after several operational tests, the module was commanded to fire its engines and circularize its orbit at an altitude of about 390 km, the orbit at which Endeavour would rendezvous and capture the spacecraft using the Shuttle's robotic arm.

The U.S.-funded and Russian-built Zarya was a U.S. component of the station although it was built by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre (KhSC) in Moscow under a subcontract to The Boeing Co. for NASA. It was shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, launch site to begin launch preparations in January 1998.

AKA: Alpha-FGB; 77KM.
Gross mass: 20,000 kg (44,000 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 8,000 kg (17,600 lb).
First Launch: 1998.11.20.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • International Space Station American manned space station. Development from 1994. Assembled in orbit from 1998, with completion expected 2010. In 1987-1993 the Russians successfully assembled and operated the 124-metric ton Mir station. More...

Associated Engines
  • KRD-442 Isayev N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 4.38 / 0.17 kN. Orbital propulsion for FGB-derived modules for Mir and ISS. In Production. Main and low-thrust mode. Operation of turbopump without chamber used to pump propellants into tanks from Progress tankers. More...

See also
  • Proton The Proton launch vehicle has been the medium-lift workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs for over forty years. Although constantly criticized within Russia for its use of toxic and ecologically-damaging storable liquid propellants, it has out-lasted all challengers, and no replacement is in sight. More...
  • US Space Stations Wernher von Braun brought Noordung's rotating station design with him from Europe. This he popularized in the early 1950's in selling manned space flight to the American public. By the late 1950's von Braun's team favoured the spent-stage concept - which eventually flew as Skylab. By the mid-1960's, NASA was concentrating on modular, purpose-built, zero-G stations. These eventually flew as the International Space Station. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Proton The Proton launch vehicle has been the medium-lift workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs for over forty years. Although constantly criticized within Russia for its use of toxic and ecologically-damaging storable liquid propellants, it has out-lasted all challengers, and no replacement is in sight. Development of the Proton began in 1962 as a two-stage vehicle that could be used to launch large military payloads or act as a ballistic missile with a 100 megaton nuclear warhead. The ICBM was cancelled in 1965, but development of a three-stage version for the crash program to send a Soviet man around the moon began in 1964. The hurried development caused severe reliability problems in early production. But these were eventually solved, and from the 1970's the Proton was used to launch all Russian space stations, medium- and geosynchronous orbit satellites, and lunar and planetary probes. More...
  • Proton-K Russian orbital launch vehicle. Development of a three-stage version of the UR-500 was authorised in the decree of 3 August 1964. Decrees of 12 October and 11 November 1964 authorised development of the Almaz manned military space station and the manned circumlunar spacecraft LK-1 as payloads for the UR-500K. Remarkably, due to continuing failures, the 8K82K did not satisfactorily complete its state trials until its 61st launch (Salyut 6 / serial number 29501 / 29 September 1977). Thereafter it reached a level of launch reliability comparable to that of other world launch vehicles. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • Chelomei Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Chelomei Design Bureau, Reutov, Russia. More...

Associated Programs
  • ISS Finally completed in 2010 after a torturous 25-year development and production process, the International Space Station was originally conceived as the staging post for manned exploration of the solar systrem. Instead, it was seemed to be the death knell of manned spaceflight. More...

  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Shuttle and ISS Mission Press Kits and News Releases, NASA, 1981-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Shuttle-Mir Web, NASA, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, NASA Factsheet Zarya - (Functional Cargo Bloc Kb PDF) (IS-1999-01-ISS014JSC), Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Baikonur Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur. More...

ISS Zarya Chronology

1998 January - .
  • Zarya FGB delivered to Baikonur - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft: ISS Zarya; International Space Station. Summary: The U.S.-funded and Russian-built Zarya was a U.S. component of the International Space Station..

1998 November 20 - . 06:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC81/23. LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K. LV Configuration: Proton-K 395-01.
  • Zarya - . Payload: FGB 77KM s/n 175-01. Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Manufacturer: Chelomei. Program: ISS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Spacecraft: ISS Zarya. USAF Sat Cat: 25544 . COSPAR: 1998-067A. Apogee: 403 km (250 mi). Perigee: 374 km (232 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 92.30 min. This was the first launch in the assembly of the International Space Station. The Zarya FGB was funded by NASA and built by Khrunichev in Moscow under subcontract from Boeing for NASA. Its design from the TKS military station resupply spacecraft of the 1970ís and the later 77KS Mir modules. Zarya included a multiple docking adapter, a pressurised cabin section, and a propulsion/instrument section with a rear docking port. Initial orbit was 176 lm x 343 km x 51.6 degrees. By November 25 it had manoeuvred to a 383 km x 396 km x 51.7 degree orbit, awaiting the launch of Shuttle mission STS-88 which docked the Unity node to it.

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