Russian Cargo Freighter Docks at ISS; 1 Day to Endeavour launch


(Editor’s Note: Ken Kremer is in Florida for Universe Today covering the upcoming Endeavour launch attempt.)

A Russian cargo robot carrying 2 ½ tons of food, fuel and essential supplies carried out an automated docking at the International Space Station (ISS) late Thursday at 11:26 PM EST following a 2 day orbital chase. The unmanned Progress 36 resupply vessel arrived at the aft port of the Zvezda service module under the watchful eyes of Cosmonuats Oleg Kotov and Maxim Suraev who were ready to swiftly intervene and perform a manual docking if necessary. Astronaut Soichi Noguchi tweeted this live account; “Progress just docked to ISS! We felt the impact!!!”

This marks the first time that four Russian spaceships are simultaneously attached to the orbiting outpost — two Soyuz manned capsules and two Progress cargo vehicles.

The ISS Progress 36 unpiloted spacecraft approaches International Space Station for docking. Credit: NASA TV
The Progress cargo vessel blasted off atop a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday at 10:45 p.m. EST loaded with 1,940 pounds of propellant, 106 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 2,683 pounds of science equipment, spare parts and supplies. The resident five man crew of Expedition 22 stayed up late to open the hatch and quickly begin unloading the valuable stash of provisions.

ISS Commander Jeff William tweeted that, “Progress docking went well. Max opened the hatch to the smell of fresh fruit. Rarely enjoyed an apple as much as today-simple gifts!”

After all the cargo is removed, the accumulated station trash will be transferred into the Progress. In May it will undock and deorbit by firing its thrusters in a preprogrammed manner where it will burn up as a flaming fireball in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Progress resupply vehicle is an automated, unpiloted version of the Soyuz manned capsules that is used to bring supplies and fuel to the ISS. The Progress also has the ability to raise the Station’s altitude and control the orientation of the Station using the vehicle’s thrusters.

The Expedition 22 crew has been diligently preparing the station for the arrival of shuttle Endeavour as well as checking out the operation of the stations robotic arm and packing up science samples to return to earth aboard Endeavour for analysis by waiting scientists on the ground. The Progress docking also caps an extremely active month of external station activity. The ISS crew conducted a spacewalk, flew a Soyuz capsule to a new docking port, and cleared the intended berthing port for the new Tranquility module by detaching Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 (PMA-3) and relocating it to a new port.

Meanwhile at Friday’s press briefing at The Kennedy Space Center NASA officials stated that everything remains on track for the Feb 7 launch of Endeavour at 4:39 AM. Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach said, “The launch countdown of Endeavour is going extremely well. We’re not tracking any technical issues at all. The team is energized and excited about the countdown. Looking forward to getting Endeavour off the ground Sunday morning.”

Mike Moses, shuttle launch integration manager, said, “We’re really looking forward to this launch carrying up node 3 [Tranquility] and the Cupola. We are greatly excited. There was a unanimous GO for launch.

Weather officer Kathy Winters reported that the weather outlook has increased to “80 Percent GO”.

Bernardo Patti, ESA’s International Space Station program manager, said “These are the last two European built elements for the ISS, Node 3 and Cupola. We are very happy and proud of Europe for providing this equipment. It’s a great example of cooperation between NASA and ESA.”

STS 130 Press Briefing: Mike Moses (shuttle launch integration manager), Bernardo Patti (ESA's International Space Station program manager), Mike Leinbach (shuttle launch director), Kathy Winters (shuttle weather officer). The NASA team reports Endeavour is Go for launch at T minus 1 day. Credit: Ken Kremer

The giant Rotating Service Structure (RSS) which protects Endeavour at the pad will be retracted at about 8 AM Saturday. Nancy and myself will be there to witness this beautiful event and the final preparations leading up to the 4:39 AM EST launch.

The brilliant spectacle of the final nighttime shuttle launch will be visible from much of the US East Coast for Endevaour’s 8 ½ minute climb to orbit.

We are now at T Minus 1 day to launch !

Banff, AB, Canada. Looks like plenty of snow for ski! Credit Astronaut Soichi Noguchi

Earlier STS 130/ISS articles by Ken Kremer

Endeavour astronauts arrive at Cape for launch of Tranquility

ISS Crew Twitpics from Orbit; Live Streaming Video Soon !

Path clear for STS 130 to attach Tranquility module

Endeavour aiming for on time launch with coolant hose fix ahead of schedule

STS 130 flight pressing forward to launch as NASA resolves coolant hose leak

STS-130 Shuttle flight facing delay due to Payload technical glitch

Shuttle Endeavour Rolled to Pad; Countdown to the Final Five Begins

Tranquility Module Formally Handed over to NASA from ESA

7 Replies to “Russian Cargo Freighter Docks at ISS; 1 Day to Endeavour launch”

  1. I like the Russian’s philosophy of using proven tech. over and over again. They DO have a tendency to ‘overbuild’ things?

    Back in the late 70’s I worked at Garrett Air-Research Industrial Div. We designed and built turbines for automotive use. My boss wheeled a HUGE cast iron turbine into the office one day and left it there. Our team gathered around it and took a look. It was a Russian built locomotive turbine… It was made of VERY HEAVY cast iron and we thought was totally overbuilt. Later that day the boss came back and said, “Laugh if you want.. then think about the fact that this particular turbine came from a locomotive used at high altitude in Peru for over 30 years!” THAT realization quieted us down!

  2. I love those Russian rockets. They’re the only one to look ‘real’ (like in Professor Tournesol’s in Tintin).

    Pity they weren’t developed further into heavy lift vehicles.

  3. Then again… back in the early 90’s I worked at a company that built desktop liquid chromotography units. Our chief engineer was an ex-patriot Russian. It was my job to put his sketches and designs into 3D computer files. On rare occasions I would find a mistake that he’d made and, it being part of my job, point them out to him.

    The ‘funny’ thing about this was, that he would NEVER admit making an error! But the next morning, I’d come in to find that ALL the documentation had been corrected! Then I’d go ahead and change the 3D models to reflect the revisions… Since these were preproduction or prototype designs, it didn’t matter – no ECO required. One day at lunch, after I gotten to know him better, I asked him about this. He was very upset at me for bringing up the subject, but knew that I was ‘on to him’. He said, “Back in old Soviet Union… you were NOT allowed to make mistake! Could ruin career..” We never spoke about this subject again…

  4. Sili – what is Proton then?

    Something I didn’t know about.

    It’s not that pretty either.

    But if ‘we’ have that, then why all the fuss about new rockets?

  5. According to the wiki, the Proton experience dozens of errors between ’65 and ’70 before reaching the 96% success rate it currently holds. I wonder how many careers that ruined.

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