Saturday, March 31, 2018

Docking Extension

Pirs (Russian: Пирс, meaning "pier") was the first of two docking compartments added to the ISS that also accommodate Orlan spacesuit EVAs via egress hatches.  Pirs was delivered to the ISS by Progress M-SO1 on September 17, 2001, and was docked to the nadir port of Zvezda where it currently resides. The module was originally slated for replacement by the Nauka module on 2007.  However, multiple delays in the Nauka module's assembly and design re-work have repeatedly pushed back the timeline to a current expected replacement of Pirs in mid-2019.

Pirs hosted between one and two Strela cranes between October 8, 2001 until August 20, 2012. One of the cranes is currently is attached to the port side of the Poisk module and the other crane is attached to the forward starboard grapple fixture of the Zarya module.

This module is offered by AXM as a free download.   The build consists of three parts pages containing the module (1), Progress M-SO1 propulsion module (2), and Strela cranes (3).  Instruction manuals with clear assembly instructions are also present on the download page.

I started the build by extracting the frame for the main Pirs body assembly.

Next, I extracted the six rings that form the main module body, lapped the joiner tabs for each to achieve a smooth seam, formed/glued each ring, numbered the ring on the inside, and placed each ring onto the module frame. I carefully read AXM's instructions re: proper order and alignment of each ring as to avoid placing a ring in the wrong location or orientation.  As I've said before, the attention to precision and detail by AXM in the design and instructions of the components in these models is impressive!

I then cut out and formed the lower body ring and EVA hatches.  I extruded the inside of the hatch handrails to help increase the level of detail.

I then extruded and assembled parts for the the docking target, docking antennas, lower body sections, panels, and Progress mating plates.  I also glued magnets on the inside points where the Strela cranes are eventually attached.

I then attached the EVA hatches, lower body sections, panels, and Progress module mating plates.

Next, I fabricated the Kurs antennas and docking protection shields.

I then moved on to assembly of the Progress M-SO1 propulsion module.

I then built the top docking ring, docking probe and nadir docking cone, inserting magnets on the underside of each to enable magnetic attachment without having to remove them then mating Pirs to Zvezda and future Progress and Soyuz vessels to Pirs on the nadir plane.  I built an extra probe for the Progress propulsion module instead of using the plug provided by the kit.  This probe also employs a magnet under the probe.

Next, I built the two Strela cranes.  Each crane is composed of 15 separate parts.

I used colored pencils to color the backs and edges of the parts in order to increase detail.

The arms and tips require curving for assembly.  I used my crafting pick to carefully form the curves and lapped joiner tabs to minimize seams on the joined sections.  Patience and use of a good set of magnifying lens/glasses is key to achieving a clean assembly of these small parts.

I then attached a small watch washer to the bottom of the base for each crane to allow for magnetic attachment.

I then attached the crane boom to the base for each.  I used the reference photo included in the assembly instructions to ensure the proper boom angle for each crane.

I fabricated crank handles and added them to each crane to increase realism. Small pieces of 32 gauge wire and 28 and 32 gauge wire insulation covers were used to make the crank arms. Crank sleeves were colored using a silver sharpie.

I then attached the nadir docking target, antennas, and cranes.

Pirs was then mated to the Progress propulsion module to verify placement of antennas, etc.

I then transported the components to my office for addition to the current ISS configuration.

Here's the ISS configuration after arrival of Progress M-SO1 on 9/17/2001.

ISS configuration after M-SO1 departure on 9/26/2001.

ISS configuration after EVA attachment of the Strela-1 crane on 10/8/2001.

ISS configuration after relocation of Soyuz TM-32 from Zarya nadir port to Pirs nadir port on 10/19/2001.

ISS configuration after arrival of Soyuz TM-33 on 10/23/2001.

ISS configuration during STS-108 with the Rafaello MPLM docked to the Unity nadir port.

ISS configuration after addition of the Strela-2 crane to the starboard side of Pirs on 1/15/2002.