Friday, April 25, 2014

Progress Resupply Ship Redocks With ISS After 2 Days of Tests

The Russian Progress 53 resupply cargo craft, which departed the International Space Station on April 23, has re-docked with the orbiting laboratory after conducting tests on a new automated rendezvous system.

A view of the International Space Station taken from Progress external cameras
The Progress cargo ship, which undocked from the aft end of the station's Zvezda Service Module on Wednesday April 23, completed important tests and evaluations of its automated rendezvous and docking system, before re-docking with the station's Russian segment at 13:13 Irish Time this afternoon, as the ISS flew 260 miles high over eastern Kazakhstan.

During testing, teams on the ground in the Russian Mission Control Room near Moscow commanded the Progress to back away to a distance of 500km(311 miles) from the ISS.

The Progress completed today's automated docking using the new KURS-NA rendezvous system, which uses just a single antenna, allowing four others to be removed. It is hoped that if these tests are satisfactory, then future Progress vehicles will be lighter, use less power, and possess updated electronics. This will in turn allow more cargo to be transported to the International Space Station.

Today's redocking comes just two days after NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson successfully completed a spacewalk which lasted just over an hour and a half to replace a faulty computer outside of the station.

As for the Progress, the Expedition 39 crew will open the hatches between the craft and the station, then fill it with trash and other unwanted items no longer needed, before it undocks from the station for a final time on June 9 to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

This is Irish Space Blog.