July 29, 2012
Progress Docks With ISS In Successful Automated System Test
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The Russian Progress cargo vehicle successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) using a new automated rendezvous system late Saturday evening, NASA officials have announced.According to the US space agency, the Progress 47 resupply ship, which had undocked on July 22 to test the updated Kurs-NA automatic docking system, successfully re-docked with the space station's Pirs module at 9:01 EDT on July 28.
Kurs-NA is an upgraded version of an older automatic docking system currently used by both Progress and Soyuz spacecraft, reporters with the Moscow-based Russian media group RT explained on Sunday. The newer version of the system features lighter, more accurate analogue signal processing circuits and a smaller external antenna.
NASA reports that Kurs-NA will also require less power to operate and will be safer to use.
"The previous attempt to test the new Kurs on July 24 failed," RT reported on their website. "The spacecraft, which earlier delivered fresh supplies into orbit, undocked the ISS, got into a position at a distance of some 161 kilometers from it and began re-docking. But when the Progress was just 15 kilometers from its target, the system ordered that the maneuver be aborted."
Russian ISS mission control chief Vladimir Solovyev told reporters on Tuesday that they had discovered that a faulty proximity sensor was to blame for the failed initial attempt. He also said that they had been working on the system's software, and that crew members opted to go forward with the second attempt after successfully completing several simulations at mission control, the Russian media outlet added.
Progress, which arrived at the ISS in April, will remain docked throughout the day Sunday and will depart from the facility the following day. It is expected to remain in orbit until the middle of next month as part of a scientific experiment, and will then be de-orbited above the Pacific Ocean, according to RT.com.