July 29, 2013
Spacesuit Tools Delivered To Space Station Via Progress 52
[ Watch the Video: ISS Progress 52 Cargo Craft Launches To Station ]
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineSix hours after a Saturday afternoon launch (4:45 pm EDT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a Russian cargo ship successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS), carrying three tons of supplies for the orbiting lab and the Expedition 36 crew.
Russia's Progress 52 resupply ship docked with the ISS's Pirs docking site at 10:26 pm EDT on Saturday, while the orbiting lab was over the Pacific Ocean near the west coast of South America. The cargo ship delivered propellant, oxygen, air, water and equipment, including tools necessary to repair spacesuits.
The addition of spacesuit repair tools to the Progress launch was apparently a last-minute decision, with space officials looking to give astronauts aboard the ISS better equipment to repair and maintain the station Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU). This follows a spacesuit malfunction that occurred in Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano's spacesuit during a July 16 spacewalk.
That spacewalk was cut short due to water that was leaking into Parmitano's helmet. While initial reports pegged space fog or a leak in his water bottle as the cause of the water, it was later evident those sources could not be responsible for the leak, as there was as much as a quart of water inside his helmet. The other potential source of the leak was the spacesuit's coolant system, which holds about a gallon of water.
According to nasaspaceflight.com, the last-minute rush of tools for the spacesuit repairs was hand-delivered to Moscow in order to make sure the equipment made it to the scene before liftoff.
Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, told the Associated Press the unmanned Progress M-20M cargo vessel docked automatically with the ISS without issue. The successful docking procedure planted Progress 52 at the area previously hosting Russia's Progress 50 cargo ship, which departed on Thursday carrying discarded materials and waste.
The hatch on Progress 52 will remain closed until the Expedition 36 crew runs a series of leak checks on the Pirs docking interface to ensure a solid berth. Once the hatch is opened, the crew will begin unloading the cargo. Once emptied, Progress 52 will remain docked, allowing station members to fill it with waste, unneeded equipment and other material. The cargo craft will be undocked later this year and will burn up in Earth's atmosphere like its previous counterparts.