progress freighter
April 8, 2014

Progress Departs Space Station, New Cargo Ships Awaiting Launch


A Russian space freighter filled with trash departed the International Space Station on time Monday at 9:58 a.m. EDT. The ISS Progress 54 will orbit Earth 11 days for engineering tests before finally deorbiting over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery disposal.

A new space delivery awaits its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan inside the ISS Progress 55 spacecraft. Liftoff is scheduled for 11:26 a.m. Wednesday with a docking to the station’s Pirs docking compartment just six- hours, or four orbits, later. The Russian resupply ship is delivering nearly 3 tons of food, fuel and supplies.

As a standard precaution, cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Tyurin were practicing techniques to manually dock the 55P in the unlikely event the cargo craft loses its automated rendezvous capability. The duo were inside the Zvezda service module practicing on the telerobotically operated rendezvous system, or TORU.

Commander Koichi Wakata and Flight Engineer Steve Swanson partnered up before lunch time to prepare for another resupply ship due to launch April 14. The pair of astronauts reviewed rendezvous and berthing procedures they will use when the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft arrives for its capture by the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.

Wakata and Swanson also participated in the Ocular Health study which observes the effects of long-term microgravity on eyesight.

Wakata also worked in the morning with NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and in the afternoon with Swanson on the Sprint experiment. The study evaluates the use of high intensity, low volume exercise training to minimize loss of muscle, bone, and improve cardiovascular function. The Japanese commander used ultrasound gear to monitor his body during the experiment.

Mastracchio worked throughout the morning collecting and storing blood and urine samples inside a science freezer. With assistance from Wakata he also measured his blood pressure.

Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev worked during his morning on the Russian VIRU experiment which explores using interactive 3D virtual manuals to train for other experiments. He participated on VIRU in conjunction with the Relaxation study which observes atmospheric reactions with jet exhaust and plasma trails caused by space bodies re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Artemyev is also still familiarizing himself with the operations of the orbital laboratory.