A Progress supply ship completed a two-day trip to the International Space Station early Wednesday, successfully guided in by cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov using a remote control console inside the station after an automated convention system ran into difficulties immediately before docking.
Progress MS-16 cargo ship connected to Pier’s mooring room at 1:26 EST (0626 GMT) Wednesday) to deliver cargo before unloading with the module later this year to pave the way for the arrival of a new Russian research laboratory.
Ryzhikov, commander of the station’s 7-man expedition 64 crew, monitored the spacecraft’s final approach, ready to take over a manual flight control system in case of a problem with the Progress cargo ship’s Course radar-controlled automated rendezvous system. The course system failed when the supply ship moved less than 70 meters or 20 meters from the space station, causing the veteran cosmonaut to activate the manual flight control system TORU inside the complex.
Using controls inside the Zvezda service module, Ryzhikov Progress steered the MS-16 spacecraft to dock with Pirs, and packed the cargo ship’s trip to the space station after a launch late Sunday (US time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on top of a Soyuz-2.1a rocket .
The cargo mission marks the 77th launch of a Progress supply ship to the International Space Station since 2000. The previous Progress cargo ship, Progress MS-15, was docked from the space station on February 9 and made a destructive re-entry into the atmosphere, disposing of garbage and clear the way for the arrival of fresh shipping.
Progress MS-16 delivered around 5,424 pounds, or 2,460 kilograms, of cargo and supplies to the space station and its seven-person crew, according to Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
The cargo ship’s payload includes 1400 kilos of dry cargo packed in the Progress spacecraft’s pressure chamber. There are also 600 kg of fuel to be fed into the space station’s propulsion system Zvezda service module, along with 420 kilos of fresh water and 926 pounds of fresh water and 40.5 kilos of pressurized gases to supplement the space station’s breathable atmosphere.
The Progress MS-16 spacecraft also carries equipment to help cosmonauts detect and repair leaks at the space station, plus Russian biomedical experiments and a research payload to study food and oxygen from microgravity algae, Roscosmos said.
The supply ship will remain at the space station until July, when Progress is planned to travel with the Pirs dome in tow. Progress MS-16 will lead itself, together with the decommissioned Pirs module, back into the atmosphere to burn up at the end of the mission.
The Pirs module has served as a docking gate and an airlock for cosmonauts on spacewalks since 2001. A similar module called Poisk has a similar function and will remain on the space station.
The removal of the Pirs module clears a docking port on the Zvezda service module, the central hub for the space station’s Russian segment, for the arrival of the long-running Nauka laboratory later this year following the launch of a powerful Proton rocket. The Nauka lab module will be the largest addition to the Russian segment of the station since 2000, when Zvezda itself was launched.
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