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Science and Power Module, NEM

Articles, illustrations and photography by Anatoly Zak | Editor: Alain Chabot

The Science and Power Module, NEM, (industrial designation 371KK63) should become the most advanced component joining the Russian segment of the International Space Station. As its name implies, it should carry state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and large power-generating solar arrays. NEM will also provide additional living quarters and new flight control systems. The module could serve as the cornerstone of a future Russian space station and a deep-space outpost.

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Known specifications of the NEM module (as of 2013):

Spacecraft industrial designation(s)
575GK, 371KK63
Launch mass
21 tons
Pressurized section volume
94 cubic meters (92 cubic meters as of 2021)
Free volume
30 cubic meters, 15 cubic meters (for cargo)
Number of work sites
Solar panel area
155 square meters
Power output
12 - 18 (at the beginning of lifespan) kilowatts
Propellant storage capacity
up to 1,300 kilograms (as of 2021)
Operational life span
No less than 17 years, including 2 years for pre-launch processing
Launch vehicle
Proton-M, Angara-5 (as of 2021)

insider content

Origin of the NEM project

From the outset of the ISS project in 1993, the Russian Segment of the station was expected to include a specialized module combining functions of a laboratory and a power-supply station. However the original version of the vehicle stalled on the ground around 2001 due to lack of funds. Only in the middle of 2000s, RKK Energia jump-started an effort to make the Russian Segment independent from external power supply.


NEM in 2017: NEM to wait until 2021

In 2017, a full-scale prototype of Russia's new-generation space station module, NEM-1, began a series of extensive tests which would clear its flight-worthy successor for launch and a multi-year mission in orbit. However the project faced a likely launch delay until at least 2021, or almost two years behind the latest schedule, because of delays in funding.


NEM in 2020: Roskosmos continues work on NEM module (INSIDER CONTENT)

Overshadowed by the problems with the MLM Nauka module, the follow-on Science and Power Module, NEM, for the Russian Segment of the International Space Station, ISS, also continued inching toward launch.


2021: NEM runs on multiple tracks (INSIDER CONTENT)

By the start of 2021, the partially completed NEM became the centerpiece of the prospective human space exploration in Russia, after the Kremlin's ambitious lunar program had faltered. Being the largest, the most advanced and the closest to implementation new spacecraft in the Russian arsenal, NEM provided the best hope for a new generation of Russian cosmonauts after the looming retirement of the ISS. But the exact fate of the 20-ton lab remained murky.


NEW, Aug. 11: 2022: NEM falls severely behind schedule (INSIDER CONTENT)

In July, the project management confirmed that NEM module failed to make the latest completion deadline, seriously damping Moscow's ambition to built its own alternative to the International Space Station, ISS.


NEW, May 27: Overview of the NEM project (INSIDER CONTENT)

The NEM module introduced an entirely new spacecraft design, finally ending the reliance on the architecture of Vladimir Chelomei's TKS spacecraft, which had served as the basis for almost all Soviet and Russian space station modules exceeding 10 tons in mass.


Rebuilding NEM for Russian station (INSIDER CONTENT)

Plans for building a future orbiting outpost from scratch instead of separating its newest modules from the retiring ISS depended on converting the yet-to-be-launched NEM into the core of the future station. However, this strategy posed a number of major technical and financial obstacles.

Articles, photos and illustrations inside this section by Anatoly Zak unless credited otherwise. All rights reserved

Last update: August 11, 2022