Progress 47/ISS Re-dock Aborted by Rendezvous System Test Problem

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Russia’s unpiloted Progress 47 supply freighter aborted a scheduled re-docking with the six-person International Space Station late Monday, following a failed self test during the final stages of an overnight flight evaluation of a new KURS automated rendezvous system.

The KURS-NA upgrade, with its single antenna, lower power requirements and reduced mass, departed the station’s Russian segment for an overnight flight test on Sunday in the expectation it will find its way aboard future Soyuz crew transports as well as Progress re-supply craft.

The trash-laden Progress was scheduled to re-dock to the station’s Russian segment Pirs docking port on Monday at 9:58 p.m., EDT.

The self-test failure occurred at 8:23 p.m., EDT, with the Progress 47 freighter about 9.4 miles behind the station, said NASA spokesman Dan Huot, who was posted in Mission Control, where U.S. experts were monitoring the Russian managed test activities.

Russian flight control teams, who were sorting tout he causes of the failed self test, were not expected to make a second docking attempt before Tuesday, following a review of the failed self test by the International Space Station mission management team, said Huot.

Extended troubleshooting was unlikely to bring the Progress 47 close to the station for a second docking attempt prior to the scheduled rendezvous of Japan’s HTV-3 supply ship with the station early Friday.  Station astronauts Joe Acaba, of NASA, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide are prepared to grapple the HTV-3 cargo craft with Canadarm 2 on Friday sometime after 8 a.m., EDT, and berth it to the station’s U. S. segment.

The Japanese freighter was launched last Friday with 4.6 metric tons of food, clothing and research gear.

Meanwhile, the Progress 47 abort trajectory, which was triggered by the failed self test, was to bring the Russian freighter no closer then two miles from the orbiting science laboratory – a safe distance, said Huot.

The freighter departed the station on Sunday at 4:26 p.m., propelling itself away and behind the outpost to a distance of about 100 miles for 27 hours of station keeping and KURS-NA evaluation before it was commanded to return.

Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Yuri Malenchenko were positioned at a TORU control post in the Zvezda service module prepared to manually direct the re-docking if necessary. The Progress failed to approach close enough.

Also designated M-15M, Progress 47 had been scheduled to depart the station for the final time on July 30. It reached the station in April with nearly three tons of fuel and other supplies.

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