Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Space Station Resupply Craft Prepares for Launch

Russia's Soyuz U Prepares for Launch. (Yuznhy Space Center)

A Russian cargo spacecraft will journey into earth orbit on Wednesday carrying supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.

A Soyuz U rocket with the Progress M-05M (37) resupply craft is set to launch at 1:15 pm EDT (1715 GMT) on Wednesday, from Pad 1 at the Baikonour Cosmosdrome in Kazakhstan.

The two-stage Soyuz U rocket stands a few inches above 167-feet tall at launch. It's twenty core stage engines and eight smaller stabilizer engines provide much of the thrust during the first few minutes of flight.

This will be the thirty-seventh Progress to ferry supplies to the space station.
The Progress is scheduled to dock to the Pirs Docking Compartment on Saturday afternoon.

The unmanned cargo ship will carry 110 pounds of air and oxygen; 220 pounds of water; 1,918 pounds of propellant; and 3,031 pounds of experiment hardware and spare parts for the station's six person crew.

Hours after docking, the six-member station crew will open the hatches to Progress and begin unstowing the supplies.

The current Expedition 23 crew includes Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer, Soichi Noguchi, Mikhail Kornienko, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, and Alexander Skvortsov.

The nearly 24-foot Progress uses two solar arrays to power the vehicle's time in space. Nine minutes after launch, the craft begins to deploy the arrays and a high gain antenna.

On April 22, the trash-filled older Progress
M03-M (35) undocked from station to make room for the new craft's arrival. Mission control in Moscow will fire its deorbit thrusters today for three minutes at 2:05 pm EDT (10:05 pm Moscow) to send it toward a reentry where it will burn up.

During the craft's recent solo flight, a program test known as the
Radar-Progress technical experiment was performed.

"The experiment is aimed at defining density, sizes and reflectivity of the ionosphere environment around the vehicle, which is caused by operations of the Progress` liquid propellant engines," Russian Space Agency public affairs told this reporter in a recent message.

Fragments of the craft are expected to splashdown at just before 3 PM EDT over the southern Pacific Ocean in a region located at 42 degrees south by 141 degrees west.

The next Progress launch is to take place in two months on June 28.

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