The Prichal docking node, propelled by a modified Progress spacecraft, approaches the International Space Station Nov. 26. Credit: NASA TV

WASHINGTON — A node module billed as the final Russian element of the International Space Station docked with the station Nov. 26.

The Prichal, or “Pier,” module, propelled by a modified Progress cargo spacecraft, docked with the nadir port of the Nauka module at 10:19 a.m. Eastern, a little more than two days after its launch on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The four-ton spherical module serves as a node to allow other spacecraft to dock with the station. Prichal has six docking ports, one of which is used for its connection to Nauka. The others are available for use by Progress and Soyuz spacecraft, and potentially other vehicles in the future.

Prichal was once envisioned to allow the addition of other modules to the Russian segment of the station. However, Roscosmos has abandoned plans for additional laboratory and power modules for the ISS, with Prichal now considered the final element of the station’s Russian segment.

The Progress spacecraft that delivered Prichal to the station will undock Dec. 21. In January, Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will perform a spacewalk to connect cables between Prichal and Nauka. The first spacecraft that will dock with Prichal is scheduled to be Soyuz MS-21, a crewed mission to the station launching in March.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...