Tag Archives: docking video

Soyuz MS-05 launches to the International Space Station

The latest crew has arrived at the ISS!  The international crew (Russian, American, and Italian) launched from Baikonur into a rapid ascent profile that allowed them to dock just a few orbits later.

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Tianzhou-1 completes inflight refueling demonstration

Tianzhou-1 has docked with the unoccupied Tiangong-2 station and completed an on-orbit refueling demonstration.  The entire operation took five days.  Tianzhou-1, which is loaded with inert bags to act as mass models of station supplies, will remain at the station for a few months, conducting other tests, before undocking for a free-flight phase of the mission before it is commanded to a destructive reentry.

Tianzhou-1 is the heaviest payload ever launched by China, bigger even than the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 space stations, which speaks to the high aspirations they have for their subsequent stations.  They are planning something substantial, and capable of continuous occupation.  Tianzhou itself is designed to supply the needs of three crewmembers (in food, water, supplies, and breathable air) for a full month.

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ISS arrivals; Soyuz MS-02 and Cygnus “SS Alan Poindexter”

The ISS is a busy place!  They’ve had two arrivals in the past few days.  First off, Soyuz MS-02 arrived following a two-day chase.  It docked to the Poisk module located at the zenith port of Zvezda’s forward compartment.  This lovely time-lapse has the perfect musical score to go along:

And now, the Cygnus OA-5 mission, with the spacecraft “SS Alan Poindexter”, has arrived at the ISS.  Crews on board captured the spacecraft with the SSRMS; ground controllers later took over and completed the berthing remotely while the crew slept, mating the spacecraft to the nadir port of the Unity node of the ISS.

Orbital ATK names each of their cargo vehicles, and the tradition they’ve chosen is to name each for a deceased astronaut.  Alan Poindexter, this spacecraft’s namesake, joined the astronaut corps in 1998, later flying on two missions, STS-122 and STS-131.  The latter was the longest mission for the Space Shuttle Discovery, at 15 days 2 hours, 47 min, 11 seconds.  Poindexter retired from NASA in 2010, one of many realizing they would never get another chance to fly into space.  He tragically passed away at the age of 50 in 2012 in a personal watercraft accident.  But thanks to Orbital ATK, his name at least can fly in space one more time.

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Progress and Dragon have arrived at Station!

Both of the cargo ships launched in the last week have now arrived at the ISS — Progress first, followed by Dragon.  The crews at the station now have a lot of unpacking to do.  Dragon carries some particularly important cargo: the first DNA sequencing system for the ISS, to facilitate more detailed study of DNA in space, allowing specimens to be studied without having to send them back to Earth first, and of course the first of two International Docking Adapters.  Currently stowed in Dragon’s trunk, this will be attached to one of the two free Pressurized Mating Adapters, converting them from the old APAS system to a modernized system that will require less human interaction during docking.

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Soyuz TMA-12M has arrived at the ISS

A day late, but better late than never, as the PAO commentator says in this video:

They were intended to dock on their fourth orbit, just a few hours after launch, but a thruster issue led to the flight day one docking being waved off.  But the third rendezvous burn was misaligned and automatically aborted, due to a one-degree error in the spacecraft’s orientation.  This made it impossible to make the flight day one docking, due to the meticulous timing required for such a rendezvous, so they reverted to the old, 48-hour rendezvous timeline and docked on orbit 34.  Roscosmos and NASA have not released details on the root cause of the problem on flight day one, but they indicated they are confident it will not happen again and have procedural fixes to prevent it.

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Cygnus has arrived!

The first operational Cygnus mission to the ISS has arrived, bearing belated Christmas gifts among the one and a half tons of cargo on board the vehicle, and also some passengers: there’s an ant farm on board.  (Click here to read the full manifest; the gifts are probably in the “Crew Suitcases” line item.)

SpaceflightNow posted this lovely video of the Cygnus control room on Earth during capture; note that the team apparently runs at least partly on Cheez-Its.  😉  (Hey, who can blame them?)

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