Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Departures and Arrivals at the ISS

ATV-5 firing thrusters for maneuvering. 

The International Space Station has seen a flurry of cargo spaceships coming and going in the last week. On February 14th, the Georges Lemaître (ATV-5) undocked from the ISS and prepared for a fiery re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday. This had been the 5th robotic European cargo spaceship to service the station, arriving in August 2014. Delivering over 2,600 kg of cargo, supplies, and propellant to the station, it had also been the heaviest spacecraft to fly into orbit with the Ariane rocket. DUring its stay at the station, it had activated its motors in November to push the ISS out of the way of a dangerous piece of debris (possibly from a Chinese space experiment). With its supplies removed, the spacious cargo area was filled with trash, broken items, and waste for burn up with the craft on Sunday.

Progress spacecraft head-on view. Solar panels extend to the sides, and communications and ranging equipment sticks out from the hull.

Progress 58, designated by the Russians as M-26M, blasted off on a SOyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Tuesday the 18th. Following a six-hour rapid ascent trajectory, the spacecraft rendezvoused with the station and docked at the Zvesda module a short time later. Docking took place at the same port just recently vacated by the ATV-5. Progress brings up about 2,300 kg of supplies, including water essential for the life support and running of the station. Expedition 42 crew members will begin unloading the spacecraft once atmosphere pressures and spacecraft systems have been checked out and normalized.

View of ISS from Progress spacecraft.

Progress 58 spotted from the ISS as it approached the station from below.

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