Tag Archives: docking

A Progress freighter was manually docked with ISS today when its automatic docking system suffered a malfunction 200 feet from the station.

A Progress freighter was manually docked with ISS today when its automatic docking system suffered a malfunction 200 feet from the station.

This freighter was using a new rendezvous radar system, and had spent two extra days approaching the station to do rendezvous tests. What failed has not yet been released.

The European Space Agency is investigating the possibility that the Progress docking to ISS on April 26 might have damaged equipment needed by their ATV cargo ship.

The European Space Agency is investigating the possibility that the Progress docking to ISS on April 26 might have damaged equipment needed by their ATV cargo ship.

The damage, caused by the undeployed Progress antenna, appears to have involved a navigational aid needed for ATV-4 … the Laser Radar Reflector (LRR) target. The LRR is needed for the automatic docking of the European ATV during the last part of the rendezvous operations. If the damage is confirmed, the device, recently replaced during an EVA by the Russian crew due to contamination of the optical section, will need to be replaced again. In this event, the European cargo ship could potentially be delayed for several months. ATV-4, named Albert Einstein, has been already delayed from April to June because of a glitch in an avionics box.

It appears the Progress freighter has successfully docked with ISS.

It appears the Progress freighter has successfully docked with ISS.

The story is not entirely clear on whether this was a successful hard dock, or only a soft dock. However, I’ve done a search on the web and it sounds like the docking was good. This story says the astronauts on ISS will conducting leak tests (a normal procedure) and then begin unloading, which suggests that all is well.

A hard docking is confirmed.

A new report from Russia suggests that the undeployed antenna on the Progess freighter will interfere with ISS’s docking port and prevent a docking.

A new report from Russia suggests that the undeployed antenna on the Progess freighter will interfere with ISS’s docking port and prevent a docking.

It appears that the antenna would allow a soft docking but prevent the hard docking necessary to allow for the opening of the hatch. Something similar to this had happened on the Russian Mir station in the 1987. Two astronauts did a space walk to clear the hatch of a piece of debris. Now the Russians are suggesting again that if a hard dock becomes impossible a spacewalk be performed to get the antenna out of the way.

A test redocking of a new automatic docking system on a Russian Progress freighter was aborted last night when the system did not work as planned.

A test redocking of a new automatic docking system on a Russian Progress freighter was aborted last night when the system did not work as planned.

They will probably try again on the weekend, after a Japanese cargo craft is berthed with the station.

Using video game software, Surrey Satellite has devised a way for nanosatellites to seek each other out and then dock to form a larger satellite.

The competition heats up: Using video game software, Surrey Satellite has devised a way for nanosatellites to seek each other out and then dock to form a larger satellite.

If the STRaND-2 satellites are able to dock with one another, it opens up a whole new world of space engineering. Instead of building one large spacecraft, as in conventional satellite manufacturing, or using microsatellites flying in formation as is being developed currently, dockable satellites would be modular “space building blocks” according to [Surrey]. Satellites could be made as plug-and-play components that could be sent up in segments using smaller, cheaper rockets or piggybacked with other payloads and then linked together. This would not only be a cost savings, but would allow for much greater design flexibility. It would also make it much easier to repair, maintain, refuel or upgrade satellites. Today, a satellite with a failing power system is an expensive write off. Tomorrow, it would simply a matter of sending up a new power module.

Even the fight against space junk would benefit, since a dockable micro-satellite with a booster pack could easily dock with a dead satellite and either return it to the Earth’s atmosphere or out to a space disposal area.

NASA has announced a February 7 launch date for SpaceX’s next test flight of Falcon 9 and Dragon

NASA has announced a February 7 launch date for SpaceX’s next test flight of Falcon 9 and Dragon to ISS.

They also have approved allowing Dragon to do a test berth with ISS on this flight, assuming the first test approach goes well.

Redundancy is all

I just thought I’d note the interesting juxtaposition illustrated by my previous two posts: In one case there is a battle between Congress and the President over the future of the American manned space program, prompted by the impending shutdown of the shuttle program with no immediate replacement in sight. In the other case, the only remaining program with the capability to provide manned access to the International Space Station has a serious docking failure.

With manned spaceflight, redundancy is all important. This juxtaposition illustrates very clearly the precarious position we will be in once the shuttle is retired.