Progress Departs ISS for One Day KURS-NA Rendezvous System Test


Space Station as viewed bydeparting Progress cameras. Photo Credit: NASA TV  

Russia's Progress 47 re-supply craft departed the International Space Station on Sunday, initiating a one-day flight test of an upgraded KURS automated docking system planned for use aboard future Soyuz crew transport as well as cargo craft.

The un-piloted capsule, which docked initially on April 22, backed away from the station's Russian segment Pirs module at 4:26 p.m., EDT.

During the flight test, the Russian freighter will fall behind the six-person space station to a distance of about 100 miles, station-keep for 27 hours, then re-rendezvous for a scheduled automated docking on Monday at 9:58 p.m., EDT.

The new KURS-NA docking hardware features one rather than five rendezvous system antennas and updated electronics with lower power requirements and less mass than previous gear.

The aging, trash filled Progress spacecraft is scheduled to depart the station for good on July 30 and will participate in additional engineering assessments prior to re-entering the Earth's atmosphere in late August.

The final departure will clear the Pirs docking port for Russia's Progress 48 spacecraft. Russia plans a four orbit, or six hour, launch to docking of the new Progress, rather than the traditional 34 orbit, two day transit.

Lift off of Progress 48 is set for Aug. 1.

The flight test of the accelerated Progress trajectory could be adapted by future Soyuz crews as well to improve their comfort. 

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