Thursday, June 15, 2017

Progress MS-06 Freighter on Its Way to Space Station

A Soyuz 2.1a with the Progress MS-06 cargo spacecraft launches toward the International Space Station at 5:20 a.m. EDT (09:20 GMT) June 14, 2017. Photo Credit: RSC Energia

Taking to overcast skies at 5:20 a.m. EDT (09:20 GMT) June 14, 2017, from Site 31 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a modernized Soyuz 2.1a rocket powered toward orbit. Three stages and nine minutes later, the Progress MS-06 freighter was deployed into its proper orbit to begin a two-day, 34-orbit journey to the International Space Station.

Progress MS-06 is carrying with it some 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of fuel and supplies. That includes around 3,000 pounds (1,400 kilograms) of pressurized cargo, as well as 1,940 pounds (880 kilograms) of fuel for station propulsion, 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of water, and 104 pounds (47 kilograms) of oxygen for the crew.

Also inside the pressurized compartment are four small satellites. They will be released by cosmonauts during a Russian spacewalk, based out of the Pirs docking compartment, currently scheduled for Aug. 17, 2017.

After the freighter’s two-day trek, it will rendezvous with the ISS and automatically dock with the aft port of the Zvezda service module. Docking is scheduled for 7:42 a.m. EDT (11:42 GMT) Friday, June 16. It will remain there until December before undocking, de-orbiting and burning up in the atmosphere of the South Pacific Ocean, away from major shipping lanes.

Under the original plan, near the end of Progress MS-06’s mission, the freighter was supposed to eventually undock from the Zvezda service module and re-dock with the Pirs docking compartment once Progress MS-05, which is currently attached there, vacated.

Once re-docked to Pirs, Progress MS-06 would have removed the module from the space station for an eventual destructive reentry. This would have been the first module to be “retired” from the outpost, and it would have opened up a port for the long-delayed Nauka science module to dock with.

However, according to NASASpaceflight, with Nauka once again delayed, this flight plan has been moved to Progress MS-09 at the end of 2018. Nauka’s most recent delay stems from contamination issues.

Written by: Derek Richardson
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