Progress M-66 launches, heads for the International Space Station

by Chris Bergin

The Russian cargo ship Progress M-66/32P has launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, ahead of docking with the International Space Station (ISS) on February 13. The resupply vehicle is carrying 2.5 tons of cargo for the Station’s Expedition 18 crew.

Included in its supplies are more than 1,900 pounds of propellant, just over 100 pounds of air and oxygen, almost 250 pounds of water, and around 2,800 pounds of dry cargo.

Following the undocking and disposal of the previous cargo ship, Progress M-65/31P, the new vehicle will mark what is likely to be a busy period of arrivals for the orbital outpost.

“The ISS is going to have quite a bit of traffic this year,” noted this week’s MOD 8th Floor news on L2. “31P had a nominal undock this week loitered for a few days to perform some experimentation. Deorbit occurred nominally on Feb 8. 32P will be following close on its heels. It will dock on Friday Feb 13th at 1:19am Central time.

15A/STS-119 will launch soon thereafter – pending Shuttle discussions regarding the Flow Control Valves (FCVs). Soyuz 18S will perform a crew rotation in March, with 19S following in May, which will increase the crew size to 6 from its current 3.”

For the Progress M-66 docking, RSC-Energia reported that subset number 2 of the KURS-P automated rendezvous radio system aboard the SM (Service Module has been approved as backup for subset number 1. Subset number 3 will be standby as “cold reserve”, and an additional backup will be provided by the manual TORU system.

Progress M-66 will arrive at a busy ISS, following the successful reactivation of the Russian CO2 removal device (Vozdukh), which will play a key role when the Station is increased to a crew of six later this year.

“The Russian CO2 removal device, the Vozdukh shut down unexpectedly this week. Since it is an important backup to the US CDRA CO2 removal device, the Russian team performed a quick assessment of the anomaly,” added the 8th Floor ISS update.

“They determined that a vacuum pump which was operating well in excess of it’s predicted life (by a factor of 12) finally failed. They replaced that pump and reactivated the Vozdukh normally.

The 8th Floor also reiterated confirmation that the Station is unlikely to have suffered any structural damage during the “shaky” January 14 reboost via the engines on the Zvezda service module – although evaluations are continuing.

“You have probably heard about the SM engine based reboost that produced quite a bit more vibration then what is normally expected. Generally ISS reboosts are performed by the Progress resupply ship thrusters, which are quite a bit less powerful then the SM main engines. This is because the aft port of the SM is usually occupied by a Progress vehicle.

“However, although the SM main engines are not used very often, they have been utilized for reboosts in the past, with good success. Once the engineers analyzed the data from the reboost, it was determined that the optimum control system set of parameters had not been loaded, so the thruster control placed a larger forcing function on structure then anticipated.

“The community has been assessing the overall loading conditions and at this time it looks like the structures will still meet their normal lifetime capability.”

L2 members: All documentation – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, now over 4000 gbs in size.

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