A changing of the guard

The latest Russian resupply craft to supply the International Space Station (ISS) was undocked successfully from the PIRS docking module at 22:10 UTC on Monday 23rd January 2012.

The Progress M-13M craft was launched from the Bakinour Cosmodrome at 10:11 UTC on 30th October, and docked at the ISS on 2nd November. Carrying almost 3 tonnes of supplies, it was the first successful Soyuz flight since the failure, on August 24th 2011 of the previous resupply vessel.

The undocking of the Progress M-13M craft from the ISS, allows for the next resupply vessel, imaginatively called Progress M-14M, to be launched from Bakinour in Kazakhstan. This is currently planned to launch at 23:06 UTC (18:06 EST) on 25th January (03:06 Moscow time on the 26th Jan).

Progress 14-M waits on the pad
Progress 14-M waits on the pad Credit: Roscosmos

The actual name, or designation, of the mission is specified differently in the US and Russia. In the United States, the mission is known as Progress 46P. For them, its the 46th Russian resupply mission to the ISS. The Russians, on the other hand, designate the mission Progress M-14M, as its the 14th flight of this model of the Soyuz rocket. This model, has been modified to include a fully digital flight control system, and first flew in November 2008.

This time the resupply vehicle will supply around 2.5 tonnes of supplies to the ISS. It consists of:

Main flight components (total weight – 1,259 kg) consisting of:

Item Weight
Fuel in the tanks refueling system 539 kg
Gas in cylinders of oxygen 50 kg
Water 420 kg
Fuel in the tanks of the DCD for use on the ISS 250 kg

Cargo delivered in a sealed compartment (total mass – 1,410 kg) consisting of:

Item Weight
Equipment for life support (GM) 6 kg
Equipment for water supply (WAS) 107 kg
Equipment to ensure the thermal regime (Comp) 40 kg
Command and control equipment “Regulus-OS” 36Kg
TV (TVS) 8 kg
Traffic control and navigation (ship), telephone and telegraph communications (STTS), control onboard equipment (Suba) 2 kg
Means maintenance and repair (STORA) 3 kg
Funds sanitary services (SSGO) 156 kg
fire protection (DPSS) 6 kg
Lighting 17 kg
Funds intermodule ventilation (SMV) 14 kg
containers with food rations, fresh food 304kg
Medical equipment, clothes, personal hygiene, clean air controls and cleaning station 184kg
Equipment FGB “Zarya” 3 kg
Equipment SB-1 “Pirs” 7 kg
Equipment for MIM-1 “Dawn” 24 kg
Equipment for MIM-2 “Search” 5 kg
Equipment for scientific experiments, “Typology”, “Immune,” “Biodegradation”, “Matryoshka-R”, “Endurance”, “Test” 88 kg
Bortdokumentatsiya, parcels for the crew 37 kg
Set items for the Russian crew members 164kg
Equipment for the U.S. segment, including food, sanitation and hygiene facilities to ensure 199kg

After its scheduled launch tomorrow, the resupply vessel will gradually catch up to the ISS for an eventual docking at 00:08 UTC/GMT on Saturday 28th January (06:08 Moscow Time Saturday, 19:08 EST on Friday)

Prior to Progress M-13M’s fiery demise above the Pacific Ocean, Russian ground controllers will briefly send it to a higher orbit by switching on its propulsion engines on Tuesday, at 13:35 UTC/GMT (17:35 Moscow time, 08:35 EST ) & 14:22 GMT (18:22 Moscow time, 09:22 EST).

After two orbit corrections, the Progress craft will be in an orbit around 500 km to deploy the Chibis-M micro-satellite. The mission is an small international collaboration project between Russia, Hungary and Ukraine.

Chibis-M is due to separate from the Progress craft at 23:19 GMT/UTC on Tuesday 24th January (03:19 Moscow time on Wednesday, 18:19 EST Tuesday) and will remain in orbit for at least four years studying lightnings and thunderstorms in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Chibis-M weights about 40 kg and carries about 12 kg of equipment to study high-altitude powerful pulses of gamma rays, X-rays and plasma discharges that sometimes accompany thunderstorms. The craft will hopefully help explain Terrestrial Gamma Ray Flashes (TGFs). TGFs, first discovered in 1994, are probably caused by electric fields produced above thunderstorms, but scientists are still uncertain as to the exact nature of the phenomenon. For more information about the Chibis-M micro-satellite click HERE

Chibis-M  micro satellite
Chibis-M micro satellite Credit: AMSAT-UK

After deploying the Chibis-M satellite, Russian ground controllers will fire the engines on the Progress craft one more time, before it meets a fiery death in the upper atmosphere somewhere above an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean at around 03:18 GMT on Wednesday (07:18 Moscow Time, 22:18 EST on Tuesday)


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