The Russian resupply ship Progress M-60/25P has launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on top of a Soyuz-U launch vehicle in the early hours of Saturday, en-route to the International Space Station (ISS).
The unmanned cargo vehicle is carrying 2.5 tonnes of food, water, fuel and equipment to the three man crew of Expedition 15, ahead of the launch of shuttle Atlantis on STS-117.
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Progress is carrying 241 kilos of food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, 136 kilos of medical equipment, medicines and personal items – which includes parcels from the families of crewmembers. Specific to the US side of the ISS, Progress is carrying 377 kilos of food, equipment and clothing.
According to the Russians, this Progress run will be diverse, carrying equipment for air and water supply systems, fire fighting equipment, and also containers with air, water and fuel for space capacity on the station. Progress will also be carrying 50 passengers, in the form of snails, which will be used in an experiment in tissue regeneration whilst in zero gravity.
Preparations for the arrival of Progress – timelined for May 15 at 1:10am Eastern – have been on-going this week for the crew of the ISS, including the training for the backup rendezvous system, should Progress suffer a problem with his own automated KURS system.
‘In preparation for the Progress docking on Tuesday, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov completed the standard three-hour training course with the TORU teleoperator system, which provides a manual backup mode to the Progressâ€™ KURS automated rendezvous radar system,’ noted Friday’s On Orbit status report.
‘Afterwards, Fyodor and Oleg tagged up with TORU specialists at TsUP/Moscow via S-band audio. The drill, supported by an onboard simulator application, included procedure review, rendezvous, docking data and rendezvous math modeling data review, fly-around, final approach, docking and off-nominal situations (e.g., video or comm loss).
‘The TORU teleoperator control system lets an SM-based crewmember perform the approach and docking of automated Progress vehicles in case of KURS failure. Receiving a video image of the approaching ISS, as seen from a Progress-mounted ‘Klest’ docking television camera, on a color monitor (‘Simvol-Ts’, i.e. â€œsymbol centerâ€).
‘This also displays an overlay of rendezvous data from the onboard digital computer, the crewmember would steer the Progress to mechanical contact by means of two hand controllers, one for rotation (RUO), the other for translation (RUD), on adjustable armrests.
‘The controller-generated commands are transmitted from the SM’s TORU control panel to the Progress via VHF radio. In addition to the Simvol-Ts color monitor, range, range rate (approach velocity) and relative angular position data are displayed on the ‘Klest-M’ video monitor (VKU) which starts picking up signals from Progress when it is still approximately 7 km away.
‘TORU is monitored in real time from TsUP over Russian ground sites (RGS) and via Ku-band from the Johnson Space Center, Houston , but its control cannot be taken over from the ground.’
During L-1 day operations, the Russian State Commission gave their official go-ahead for the launch to take place. The On Orbit status report gave an outline of the key events after launch.
‘Launch is set for 11:25:36pm EDT, followed by orbital insertion at 11:34:21pm. There will be three midcourse correction burns (DV1: 5/12 – 3:00am; DV2: 5/12 – 3:38am; DV3: 5/14 – 00:27am).
‘Six more course adjustment ‘tweaks’ will be executed later as required. The Progress KURS-A will be activated Monday night at 11:20pm on Daily Orbit 1 (DO1), followed 2 minutes later by activation of the SM KURS-P transponders on the ISS.
‘Video link and 25P floodlight activation is at ~8 km distance (00:11am, 5/15); flyaround in sunlight at ~400 m range starts at ~00:29am, station keeping at ~170 m at 00:38am, final approach at 1:01am and docking at SM aft port at ~1:10am. Orbital sunset occurs at ~1:24am.’