Progress MS-05 arrives at ISS
A fresh cargo ship lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Feb. 22, 2017, resuming Russian supply missions to the International Space Station, ISS, after the failed launch of Progress MS-04 on Dec. 1, 2016. In the ISS flight manifest, the Progress MS-05 spacecraft had a designation 66P denoting the 66th Russian cargo mission heading to the outpost, while in production documentation it was designated No. 435. The mission also marked the last launch of the Soyuz-U variant within the legendary Russian rocket family.
The last Soyuz-U rocket with Progress MS-05 lifts off on Feb. 22, 2017.
Progress MS-05 mission at a glance:
Preparations for launch
The Progress MS-05 is expected to deliver nearly 2.5 tons of supplies to the ISS, including propellant, pressurized gas, an Orlan-MKS spacesuit, scientific equipment, containers with food and water, consumable supplies and personal packages for the crew.
The launch of the Progress MS-05 mission was originally planned for Oct. 16, 2016, and by the end of 2016, it was postponed from February 1 to Feb. 21, 2017, 17:11 Moscow Time, in the wake of the Progress MS-04 accident. The extra time was used to return third stages of already assembled vehicles to the manufacturing plant for additional inspections of RD-0110 engines, which were suspected to be culprits in the loss of Progress MS-04. The engine on the third stage of the Soyuz U vehicle assigned for the Progress MS-05 mission was replaced.
With the root cause of the December 1, 2017, failure never fully understood, the Soyuz-U rocket for the Progress MS-05 mission and all subsequent launchers carrying Soyuz and Progress spacecraft were retrofitted with onboard cameras capable of transmitting live images during the ascent to orbit. The cameras were installed on the exterior of the intertank compartment of the third stage. The resulting video could help to understand the rocket's behavior during the flight.
The launch of Progress MS-05 was to be ensured for 139.8 million rubles.
In January 2017, new delays were expected to push the launch date from February 1 to March 1, until the liftoff window was finally set for February 22, 2017.
Progress MS-05 is being installed in the test rig at Site 254 in Baikonur after the completion of fueling operations on Feb. 14, 2017.
In preparation for the Progress MS-05 mission, the loading of dry items into the front cargo section of the spacecraft was completed on February 7. On February 10, the mission management and the State Commission overseeing the launch confirmed readiness of the spacecraft for fueling with propellant and pressurized gases. That operation was completed on February 14, 2017, and on February 16, Progress MS-05 was integrated with its launch vehicle adapter. The next day, mission officials conducted the formal final inspection of the spacecraft, after which the vehicle was lowered into horizontal position and rolled inside its protective payload fairing. On the same day, Progress MS-05 was transported from the spacecraft processing building at Site 254 to the launch vehicle assembly building at Site 112 for final integration with its Soyuz rocket.
On February 19, the payload section with the Progress MS-05 spacecraft was integrated with third stage of the Soyuz-U launcher and the resulting upper composite was then connected to the assembled boosters of the first and second stage. On the same day, the State Commission cleared the vehicle for the rollout to the launch pad.
The final Soyuz-U rocket with the Progress MS-05 spacecraft was rolled out to the launch pad at Site 1 in the early hours of Feb. 20, 2017.
The last Soyuz-U rocket with Progress MS-05 on the launch pad in Baikonur.
Following a vertical liftoff, the launch vehicle headed eastward from Baikonur matching an orbital inclination of 51.66 degrees toward the Equator. Four boosters of the first stage separated nearly two minutes into the flight, while the second stage continued firing until 4.7 minutes into the flight.
The third stage ignited moments before the separation of the second stage, firing through a lattice structure connecting the two boosters and ensuring the continuous thrust during the entire ascent to orbit.
Less than 10 seconds after the separation of the second stage, the payload fairing protecting the spacecraft split into two halves and fell off. A fraction of a second later, the aft cylindrical section of the third stage split into three segments and dropped off, ensuring the fall of all the debris into the same drop zone 1,576 kilometers from the launch site.
In the meantime, the third stage kept firing until almost nine minutes into the flight. Progress MS-05 then separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle at 09:27:22 Moscow Time (1:07 a.m. EST), just over three seconds after the third stage engine shutdown.
NASA confirmed normal deployment of solar arrays and antennas onboard Progress MS-05 and the engineering camera onboard the cargo ship transmitted first images of the Earth's surface. The spacecraft was determined to be in a 193.9 by 217.7-kilometer orbit with an inclination 51.6 degrees toward the Equator.
Rendezvous and docking
Progress MS-05 followed a two-day rendezvous profile with the ISS. It was scheduled to conduct an automated docking at the nadir (Earth-facing) port of the SO-1 Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the ISS on Feb. 24, 2017, at 11:34 Moscow Time (3:34 a.m. EST). In reality, the docking took place four minutes earlier at 11:30 Moscow Time (3:30 a.m. EST)
During the automated docking process, Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Oleg Novistky were on stand by at the manual control system, TORU, console inside the Zvezda Service Module to take over docking operations if needed.
Progress MS-05 will remain docked at the station for almost four months before departing in June 2017 for its deorbit into Earth’s atmosphere.
Read much more about the history of the Russian space program in a richly illustrated, large-format glossy edition:
On February 16, Progress MS-05 was integrated with a launch vehicle adapter. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
On February 17, Progress MS-05 was encapsulated inside its protective fairing which carried the insignia marking the 110th anniversary since the birth of Sergei Korolev. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
A red protective cover marks the location of the newly installed video camera for live video transmission of the launch. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Progress MS-05 is being transported from the spacecraft processing building at Site 254 to the launch vehicle assembly building at Site 112 for final integration with its Soyuz rocket. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Final integration of the Soyuz-U rocket with Progress MS-05 spacecraft on Feb. 19, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Service gantry is being retracted around the Soyuz-U rocket with Progress MS-05 spacecraft shortly before its liftoff on Feb. 22, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Progress MS-05 lifts off on Feb. 22, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos