Sunday, April 3, 2016

Progress MS-2 Spacecraft Docks to the ISS

The Progress MS-2 supply craft approaches the International Space Station on Saturday. Credit: NASA

The Progress MS-2 cargo spacecraft docked successfully to the rear port of the Zvezda Service Module on the International Space Station (ISS) at 1:58 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The Kurs automated docking system enabled a smooth rendezvous as the cargo resupply craft and the International Space Station flew about 250 miles above Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

"Docking of the spacecraft with the ISS was held at a designated time," an official at the Russian mission control center said.

A Soyuz-2.1a rocket carrying the Progress MS-2 cargo ship atop blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 31. It was a second launch of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with space vehicle of the Progress family since the April 2015 incident, when the unmanned cargo spacecraft was damaged and failed to enter the designated orbit. The first launch of a Progress vehicle with a Soyuz-2.1a rocket was held last December.

While the cargo spacecraft was on its way toward the ISS, new systems were tested similar to the ones which will be used in the first manned flight of a new series spacecraft Soyuz-MS due in June 2016.

The Progress MS-2 spacecraft arrived with more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the space station crew.

Among other items on board the cargo spacecraft is the world’s first-ever microsatellite. Its hull was printed on a 3D-printer. The satellite, designed and made at the Tomsk Polytechnic University - Tomsk-TPU-120, will be put in space from the ISS when the crew make a spacewalk.

Most of the satellite’s parts and components were printed with the use of plastic, while the electric battery unit is the world’s first one to have been made of zirconium with the use of 3D printing technology.

The docking of the vehicle marked the second cargo ship in as many weeks to arrive at the station. Up next is the scheduled launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply vehicle on April 8 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The Dragon’s arrival at the complex on April 10 will be the third resupply vehicle for the station in three weeks, resulting in some 12 tons of cargo for the station’s residents from Progress, Dragon and the Orbital ATK Cygnus ship, which arrived at the station on March 26.


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