The Progress MS-05 spacecraft (flying the ISS-66P mission) has arrived uneventfully at the Pirs module of the ISS. It’s the second cargo vehicle to arrive this week, but it is no doubt welcome after the loss of Progress MS-04 to a launch vehicle mishap. It’s refreshing to see such a smooth docking!
Earlier this week, the first Soyuz MS completed the first leg of its maiden voyage, arriving at the ISS right on time and docking smoothly. The spacecraft’s enhancements include satellite communications to make use of the new Luch spacecraft communications constellation (an analog to NASA’s TDRSS), navigation via both GLONASS and GPS, a phased-array radar to reduce the number of antennas needed, and more efficient thrusters and power system. The second Soyuz MS, due to fly in September, will also take a lengthy rendezvous to enable comprehensive testing, but after that they should be able to return to the six-hour ascent profile.
The crew have joined the ISS Expedition 48 crew, and will remain on the station into Expedition 49, to return home in November.
Soyuz TMA-14M blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome yesterday:
The crew are Soyuz commander Alexander Samokutyaev, Soyuz engineer Elena Serova, and NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore. Elena Serova is the first Russian woman to fly into space since 1997. Serova is only the fourth female cosmonaut, following in the footsteps of Valentina Tereshkova, Svetlana Savitskaya, and Yelena Kondakova.
The flight was not without glitches; although the launch was flawless and the fast-track approach successful, the Soyuz was only able to deploy one of its solar arrays. Fortunately, one is all it really needs; the second one is a backup.
ESA has released a highlights reel of the docking sequence. It’s neat to see the thruster firings as the computer brings the spacecraft in.
This is ESA’s final ATV, their cargo vehicle to the ISS and one of only two spacecraft types capable of delivering propellant for Zvezda’s main engines. (The other, of course, is the Russian Progress.) As ATV is designed to duplicate this function, it also docks the same way Progress does — it docks to the aft port of Zvezda, with a Soyuz-style cone-and-drogue docking system, using the Kurs rendezvous system.
A software glitch interrupted the planned docking early this morning (Sunday), and Cygnus has been hanging out a safe distance away from the station. Orbital Sciences has already identified the problem, and expects to have a fix uplinked in time to make another attempt on Tuesday. On the upside, this gives viewers on the ground a few more chances to see Cygnus and ISS flying in formation. 😉
SpaceflightNow: Cygnus rendezvous aborted due to data link issue
For pass predictions, check out Heavens Above.