Sunday, June 26, 2011

Expedition 28: Goings and Comings

Kepler undocks from the ISS.

It's been a week of logistics at the ISS. After a stay at the station for almost four months, it was time to bid farewell to the European SPace Agency's Johannes Kepler, also designated ATV-2. The ATV is a robotic supply cargo ship with plenty of room for cargo. Once the cargo was removed and stored, the ATV was gradually filled with trash and disposable equipment. On June 20, the ATV was undocked and piloted remotely into a lower orbit. Before it left however, the remaining fuel was spent pushing the ISS into a higher, safer orbit.

ATV or X-wing? You decide.

On tuesday, the ground controllers used the ATV thrusters to position it into a plunge from low orbit into the atmosphere. No heat shield is included in the ATV equipment, so as it encountered the upper atmosphere it began to heat up. The craft burned up and broke up over the Pacific Ocean.
The end of the Johannes Kepler.

While the ATV headed for its fiery demise, more supplies were on their way to the ISS. The Russians launched a Progress resupply vessel to the station on June 21st.

Beautiful launch of a Progress resupply mission.

Progress 43 launch from the Kazakhstan facility on June 21st. The actual Russian listing for the operation is M-11M. The launch went well and the supply ship was soon in orbit on its way to the station.

Progress 43 visible on the right.

The Progress rose in orbit to the height of 245 miles above the surface, the new orbital level of the ISS. Docking completed on the 23rd. The Progress is docked at the Zvezda service module.

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