Tag Archives: undocking

Dragon is back again!

The CRS-8 Dragon capsule that launched from Florida a month ago (setting into motion the historic first controlled sea landing of a rocket) has now returned to Earth.   I haven’t found any video of the splashdown, but here’s its departure from Station:

It carried a lot of critical experiments up, and on the way down it’s carrying things like biological specimens, but the big deal for this flight was the BEAM it carried in its (now-discarded) unpressurized trunk compartment.  The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is currently mated to the aft port of the Tranquility node, but is not scheduled to be inflated until later this month.  It isn’t really  meant as a fully operational module, and for the start at least, crews are only planning to make brief excursions into the module, sealing it up when not in use.  But if all goes well, Bigelow Aerospace plans for it to become the first of a whole family of orbiting space habitats.

The next Dragon capsule is scheduled to fly in late June.  Its primary payload will replace what was lost on the CRS-7 launch failure: a docking adapter stored in the trunk section.  Boeing is contracted to deliver two of those, and NASA is exercising an option to have them build a third out of flight spares to replace the one that was lost.  NASA needs two docking adapters at Station so as to be able to host two commercial crew vehicles simultaneously, so the upcoming flight will be absolutely critical to the return of human spaceflight from US soil.

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ATV Bids Its Final Farewell to the ISS

The fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle, Georges Lemaitre, has departed the International Space Station, an event requiring coordination between controllers in Moscow (Zvezda control), Houston (ISS attitude control), and Toulouse (ATV control).  A planned deorbit test involving a shallow reentry has been cancelled due to a power failure on board the ISS, affecting an instrument that was going to observe the event, but a device on board Georges Lemaitre will still monitor conditions inside the large ATV during reentry to understand how such large vehicles experience reentry.  The device has a heatshield that will enable it to survive long enough to transmit its data, even though the ATV itself will be destroyed.

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Progress changeout in . . . er, progress

Progress M-23M undocked from the ISS a few days ago, and will perform a few engineering tests over the next few week before beginning a destructive reentry.

And Progress M-24M blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome atop a Soyuz rocket today, in predawn darkness.  It will shortly begin its final approach to the ISS.  It is the 56th Progress flight to the ISS.

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