Zvezda Module

Me Docking my Soyuz to Zvezda Module (Straight 200ms)

When in 1993 Russia was invited to join what would become the International Space Station, it brought along an array of hardware, drastically reshaping previously envisioned look of the outpost. The most significant Russian contribution in the space station design was the service module, intended to provide life-support and living quarters for a three-member long-duration crew. The 20-ton spacecraft would also maintain the outpost’s orbit with its propulsion system; supply and distribute electrical power from its solar panels, as well as send, receive and process flight control information with its internal computers.


Zvezda module at a glance:

Spacecraft designation(s)Zvezda Service Module, SM, 17KSM No. 12801
MissionPermanent component of the ISS
Docking destinationISS, Russian Segment, Zarya FGB, front port
Spacecraft mass20.3 tons
Maximum body diameter4.2 meters
Length13.1 meters
Solar panels span30 meters
Crewup to 6 people

The service module had a wingspan of 30 meters from tip to tip of its solar arrays, and it was 13.1 meters from end to end. The Service Module contained three pressurized compartments: a small, spherical Transfer Compartment, PKhO, at the forward end; the long, cylindrical main Work Compartment; and the small, cylindrical Transfer Chamber at the aft end. An unpressurized Aggregate Compartment was wrapped around the exterior of the Transfer Chamber at the aft end of the module.

The Assembly Compartment held external equipment such as propellant tanks, thrusters and communications antennas. The integrated propulsion system, ODU, of the service module consisted of two orbit-correction engines, KD, designated S5.79 with a thrust of 300 kilograms each and 32 small thrusters, DMT, designated 11D428A-10 and 11D428-14. They were developed at NIIMash and had a thrust of 12.5 kilograms each and designed to control the course, yaw and bank movements of the module. All these engines were fed from four tanks, with two tanks for oxidizer and two for fuel. Nitrogen gas was used for the pressurization of the tanks.

The Service Module included four docking ports, one in the aft Transfer Chamber and three in the spherical forward Transfer Compartment — one facing forward, one facing up and one facing down. The aft docking port had a probe and cone docking mechanism to allow docking with the Progress cargo ship and the Soyuz crew spacecraft. It also was outfitted with the automated rendezvous and docking system. All three ports on the forward compartment had hybrid docking mechanisms to allow docking with the FGB module to the forward-facing port; with the Russian Science and Power Platform, NEP, using the “zenith” or up-facing port; and with the Russian Universal Docking Module, USM, originally using the “nadir” or down-facing port. The FGB module was launched in 1998 and docked with the Zvezda as planned in July 2000, but the two other components had never flown, even though, according to early plans, the NEP was expected to launch in January 2001, followed by the USM in April.


Aft section of the Zvezda Service Module as seen from an approaching transport vehicle.

Living accommodations on the Service Module included personal sleeping quarters for the crew; a toilet and hygiene facilities; a galley with a refrigerator-freezer; and a table for securing meals while eating. The module had a total of 14 windows, including three 9-inch diameter windows in the forward Transfer Compartment for viewing docking activities; one large 16-inch diameter window in the Working Compartment; an individual window in each crew compartment; and additional windows positioned for Earth observations. Exercise equipment included a NASA-provided treadmill and a stationary bicycle. The crew’s wastewater and condensation water was to be recycled for use in oxygen-generating devices on the module, but it was not planned to be used as drinking water.

Spacewalks using Russian Orlan-M spacesuits could be performed from the Service Module by using the Transfer Compartment as an airlock. The module could also will provide data, voice and television communications with Mission Control Centers in Moscow and in Houston.

The Service Module was launched on a Russian Proton booster from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. At launch, many systems were in standby. Once in orbit, pre-programmed commands onboard fully activated its systems, the solar arrays and the communications antennas were deployed. The Service Module then entered a passive flight mode for a rendezvous with the already-orbiting Zarya control module, FGB, and the Unity module, also known as Node 1. As the passive “target” vehicle, the Service Module maintained station-keeping in orbit while the Zarya/Unity stack performed the rendezvous and docking via ground control and the Russian automated rendezvous and docking system.


Exterior view of the Service Module.

Docking So Far

ATV-3 Edoardo Amaldi firing thrusters while approaching Aft Port

  • Progress MS-02 63P, 2016
  • Progress M-29M 61P, 2015 – 2016
  • Soyuz TMA-16M 2015 [24]
  • Georges Lemaître ATV-5 2014-2015
  • Progress M-21M 2013-2014
  • Soyuz TMA-09M 2013[25]
  • Albert Einstein ATV-4 2013
  • Progress M-17M 49P, 2012-2013
  • Edoardo Amaldi ATV-3 2012
  • Progress M-11M 43P, 2011
  • Johannes Kepler ATV-2 2011
  • Progress M-07M 39P, 2010
  • Progress M-06M 38P, 2010
  • Soyuz TMA-19 2010[25]
  • Soyuz TMA-17 2010
  • Progress M-04M 36P, 2010
  • Soyuz TMA-16 2009-2010
  • Progress M-67, 34P, 2009
  • Jules Verne ATV-1 2008
  • Progress M-65 30P, 2008
  • Progress M-60 25P, 2007

Soyuz TMA-7 arrives at ISS. It was docked with Zvezda in 2006, but also spent time docked with Pirs and Zarya

  • Progress M-58 23P, 2006-2007
  • Soyuz TMA-9 2006
  • Soyuz TMA-7 2006
  • Progress M-56 21P, 2006
  • Progress M-54 19P, 2005-2006
  • Progress M-53 18P, 2005
  • Progress M-52 17P, 2005
  • Progress M-51 16P, 2004-2005
  • Progress M-50 15P, 2004
  • Progress M-49 14P, 2004
  • Progress M1-11 13P, 2004
  • Progress M-48 12P, 2003-2004
  • Progress M-47 10P, 2003
  • Progress M1-9 9P, 2002-2003

Zvezda docked with Progress M13

  • Progress M-46 8P, 2002
  • Progress M1-8 7P, 2002
  • Progress M1-7 6P, 2001-2002
  • Progress M-45 5P, 2001
  • Progress M1-6 4P, 2001
  • Progress M-44 3P, 2001
  • Progress M1-3 1P, 2000 (1st)


  • Pirs 2001–Present


  • Poisk 2009–Present


  • Zarya, 2000–Present

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s