Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ISS Spacewalk complete

Cosmonaut outside the Russian Pirs Docking module.

The 147th spacewalk maintaining and assembling the ISS is now in the recordbooks. Cosmonauts FyodorYurchikhin and Mikhail Kornienko spent six hours and 42 minutes in the vacuum of space installing command and data cables outside several modules, and more specifically, adapting the Rassvet module to handle the automatic docking sequence of the Russian Progress supply ships.

The next Expedition 24 spacewalk is scheduled for August 5th in preparation for the mission of STS-123.

There was a quick moment of "OOPS" during this spacewalk, as the monitors caught a cable clamp and another small object get away from the spacewalkers and float off into space.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Second Attempt hits the mark

Here comes Progress.

Sunday morning about 10-something am MDT, the Russian mission control team managed to get the Progress resupply capsule in position for a second attempt at docking with ISS. The attempt was a success, and the Expedition 24 team is busy unloading the supplies from the storage capsule.

It turned out that one of the television systems aboard the spacecraft had unexpectedly blocked the rendezvous & docking radio signals (called TORU), which triggered an automatic system preventing the spacecraft from nearing the ISS. Which of course means that the Progress control system worked exactly as it was supposed to, preventing an untimely crash. A new procedure was developed for the second attempt. No doubt the Russian teams will be working hard to prevent this from happening again.

The next big event scheduled for Expedition 24 will be on July 26th when two cosmonauts will make an EVA to do some maintenance outside the station.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Russian Soyuz takes off, misses ISS

Russian Progress rocket on blast off

Recently the Russian space agency launched a Progress mission to resupply the ISS. As it is unmanned and controlled from the ground by the Russian mission control, the Progress system has been generally well managed and reliable. This time something went wrong.

What the ISS astronauts aren't seeing... yet.

Telemetry with the Progress capsule was lost. Without guidance, the capsule flew right on by the ISS. It's at a different altitude so there is no danger of collision. There is no resupply yet, either. Even though they have no contact with the capsule, the Russians are telling everyone that they are still in control of the craft. Please, someone, tell me the logic behind that statement?

Here's hoping, though, that the Russians do manage to regain control and continue to resupply the station. After all, we only have two shuttle flights left before the STS program is cancelled, and then we will be TOTALLY DEPENDENT on the Russians for rides and supply to the ISS.

Anyone else feel queasy about that?