Tag Archives: Progress freighter

Russia reveals its proposed new cargo spacecraft

Government vaporware: In an effort to save money Russian engineers have designed a new cargo spacecraft to replace the Progress freighter.

Faced with latest economic problems, and the need to reduce the number of Progress cargo launches, Russia’s space agency Roskosmos made plans to cut the permanent crew of ISS cosmonauts from three to two people. However the full international crew on the ISS is supposed to include six people with half of it reserved for Russia.

To resolve this supply problem, Roskosmos ordered RKK Energia, its key contractor responsible for human spaceflight, to prepare a preliminary design of a bigger cargo ship by the end of this month. Engineers quickly put together this proposal that would combine off-the-shelf hardware with new technology. … The most important new feature of the proposed cargo ship will be the six-tank cluster to carry more than 1.8 tons of propellant to the station. It will simultaneously serve as a tanker for the space station while also feeding the ship’s own propulsion system. As a result, the new design provides significant mass savings in comparison to the current Progress ships, which need two separate sets of tanks for refueling and maneuvering.

The main engine for the new cargo ship will be borrowed from an existing satellite. Meanwhile, 28 small thrusters for orbit correction and maneuvering will be copied practically unchanged from the Progress.

They hope to fly this new freighter by 2020. I’m willing to bet anyone that this won’t happen.

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.

A Progress freighter, launched yesterday, will not dock with ISS for four days in order to test upgrades to its rendezvou radar system.

A Progress freighter, launched yesterday, will not dock with ISS for four days in order to test upgrades to its rendezvou radar system.

Unlike recent Progress vehicles that used the 2AO-VKA and AKR-VKA antennas of Kurs-A system, M-21M is sporting a AO-753A antenna of the Kurs-NA system instead. Once the Progress reaches its preliminary orbit, it will conduct a series of automated engine burns to put it on track to fly within one mile of the station on Wednesday, allowing for the test of the lighter, more-efficient Kurs automated rendezvous system hardware for upgraded Soyuz and Progress vehicles.

After it finishes its flyby, the Progress will loop above and behind the station, returning Friday for a docking.

NASA is trying get some spare spacesuit parts onto a Russian Progress freighter, scheduled to launch Saturday, in its effort to fix its American spacesuits on ISS.

NASA is trying get some spare spacesuit parts onto a Russian Progress freighter, scheduled to launch Saturday, in its effort to fix its American spacesuits on ISS.

It must be emphasized that NASA still doesn’t know exactly what caused the water leak into that spacesuit during a spacewalk last week.

The Proton rocket is now grounded pending an investigation into today’s launch failure.

The Proton rocket is now grounded pending an investigation into today’s launch failure.

This is no surprise. What is more significant is that the crash today will likely delay all launches out of Baikonur for at least three months.

[C]ontamination will likely suspend activities at Baikonur Cosmodrome for two or three months, Ria Novosti reported, citing an unnamed source within the Russian space industry. The launch of a robotic Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station from Baikonur, currently scheduled for July 27, will probably be delayed as a result, according to this source. The next manned launch from Baikonur is Soyuz 36, which is slated to blast off on Sept. 25 to take three new crewmembers to the International Space Station.

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.

An antenna used to orient a Progress freighter during docking, launched today to ISS, has failed to deploy.

An antenna used to orient a Progress freighter during docking, launched today to ISS, has failed to deploy.

Though astronauts can manually dock the spacecraft, they still need proper radar data to gauge its location, spin, orientation, speed, and distance. If the remaining four antennas cannot provide all this information, it will be very dangerous to try a docking.

A problem like this has not happened on a Progress freighter in literally decades. When I consider the spate of other recent failures experienced by the Russian space industry, I can’t help wondering whether they have developed an overall quality control problem.

Update: Russian mission control said today that even if they cannot solve the deployment failure and get the antenna working it will not prevent a docking with ISS on Friday.

I tend to believe them. With four other antennas plus additional radar equipment on ISS it does seems reasonable that there is sufficient redundancy to allow the docking to proceed. Also, considering the Russians past problems with collisions on Mir, I would expect them to be very careful about proceeding if they had any doubts.

Russia plans two unmanned test launches of Soyuz rockets before using them to deliver crews to the ISS

Because of this week’s Progress freighter launch failure, Russia plans two unmanned test launches of its Soyuz rockets before flying crews on them to ISS.

One of these test launches will carry a new Progress freighter, with supplies for ISS.

The immediate consequences of the Progress freighter failure

The immediate consequences of the Progress freighter failure:

The longer term consequences? Congress will anguish over the lack of a shuttle. Some will demand more money for the program-formerly-called-Constellation, while others will demand more money for the new commercial companies. In either case, they will ignore the reality of a bankrupt federal government that simply can’t afford either at the moment.

Progress freighter launch fails

The launch of a Progress freighter to ISS today has failed, with the freighter ending up crashing into Siberia.

This is very bad news for the station. Everyone in the space industry knows that with the shuttle gone, it will be a challenge to maintain supplies to the station’s the six-person crew. Losing just one supply ship will strain the station’s supplies, if not now in the long run for sure.

Worse, this is the first launch failure of the Soyuz rocket that puts both Progress and manned Soyuz capsule into orbit in more than eleven years. The next manned crew is scheduled for launch on September 21. Whether this failure will delay that launch remains unknown.

NASA Endeavour Shuttle Launch Delayed

The Daily Beast reports today that the last flight of the shuttle Endeavour has been delayed due to a schedule conflict with a Russian Progress freighter.

Note that this has not yet been confirmed by NASA.

Update from spaceref: NASA has rescheduled Endeavour’s launch for April 29.