Progress MS-06 spacecraft set for supply run to ISS
Progress MS-06, Russia’s first supply delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) in nearly four months, is closing in on its targeted launch date of June 14, 2017.
The uncrewed mission is set to lift off at 5:20 a.m. EDT (09:20 GMT) from Site 31/6 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and will deliver approximately 5,400 pounds (2,450 kilograms) of cargo to the orbiting outpost.
Russia’s Progress freighter is an uncrewed variant of the crewed Soyuz vehicle and is capable of fully autonomous flight and will automatically dock with the Russian segment of the ISS once it arrives. However, unlike the Soyuz, no part of Progress is designed to survive re-entry at the end of its mission.
Among the supplies and consumables, Progress MS-06 will be carrying some 1,554 pounds (705 kilograms) of propellant, 110 pounds (50 kilograms) of oxygen, and 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of water.
Upon reaching orbit, the cargo craft will embark on a two-day, 34-orbit rendezvous profile with the space station and is expected to spend about six months attached to the outpost. Docking with the Zvezda service module is expected to take place at 7:42 a.m. EDT (11:42 GMT) on June 16.
The spacecraft will make use of the same upgraded avionics and navigation hardware flown on Soyuz MS-04. Outfitted with a more modern suite of digital communications and radar systems, the MS series will be able to maintain communications with Russian mission control in Moscow through nearly 70 percent of an orbit. It will do this by utilizing the Luch-5 relay satellites rather than relying on ground stations over Russian territory.
Additionally, the Kurs-NA docking system has received a substantial upgrade, providing greater efficiency during docking sequences.
Progress MS-06 – or 67P, as it is classified by NASA – will launch atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket, which is an upgraded version of the venerable Russian launcher that has seen decades of successful use.
The Soyuz family has been a workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs since 1966, tallying more than 1,700 launches in the past 50 years. The launcher family has seen flights from Russian/Soviet launch sites as well as from Arianespace‘s facilities in French Guiana in South America. This particular variant is capable of lofting more than 15,480 pounds (7,020 kilograms) to a low-Earth orbit.
Composed of a core surrounded by four strap-on liquid-fueled boosters, the first stage of the rocket is an iconic design immediately recognizable by its distinctive look of the four boosters as they taper to meet the core stage.
Making use of slightly different versions of the same family of Russian-designed and manufactured engines, the core sports a single RD-108A, while each booster utilizes an RD-107A. Both engine types are powered by a single turbopump assembly feeding liquid oxygen (LOX) and highly refined kerosene (RG-1) into four independent combustion chambers.
Although both the RD-107A and RD-108A are based on the same design, their output is somewhat different. The boosters each provide 188,500 pounds-force (838.5 kilonewtons) of sea-level thrust totaling 754,000 pounds-force (3,354 kilonewtons) of supplemental power during their two minutes of operation; the core stage provides a bit less at 178,100 pounds-force (792.5 kilonewtons).
The Soyuz’s second stage, also known as the Blok-I, is powered by the Russian-made RD-0110. Like its larger RD-107A/108A cousins, the RD-0110 has four combustion chambers into which is fed LOX and RG-1 from a single turbopump system. The smaller RD-0110 provides nearly 67,000 pounds-force (298 kilonewtons) of vacuum thrust and has been in production for more than 57 years.
Finally, the upper stage for the Progress MS-06 launch will be the Russian Fregat. It is powered by a lone S5.92 engine burning a mixture of nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine. It produces 4,460 pounds-force (19.85 kilonewtons) of vacuum thrust and is responsible for placing the spacecraft into a proper orbit.
The launch will be covered live on NASA TV.
Video courtesy of Roscosmos
Curt Godwin has been a fan of space exploration for as long as he can remember, keeping his eyes to the skies from an early age. Initially majoring in Nuclear Engineering, Curt later decided that computers would be a more interesting - and safer - career field. He's worked in education technology for more than 20 years, and has been published in industry and peer journals, and is a respected authority on wireless network engineering. Throughout this period of his life, he maintained his love for all things space and has written about his experiences at a variety of NASA events, both on his personal blog and as a freelance media representative.