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Prichal arrives at ISS

The Prichal Node Module, UM, Russia's latest permanent addition to the International Space Station, ISS, lifted off from Kazakhstan on Nov. 24, 2021. The spacecraft followed a two-day rendezvous profile with the outpost, docking at the nadir (Earth-facing) port of the Nauka module on Nov. 26, 2021.


Previous chapter: Prichal's launch campaign

launch

Prichal launch at a glance:

Payload designation
Prichal Node Module, UM/Progress M-UM No. 303
Total liftoff mass
8,180 kilograms
Prichal liftoff mass
4,650 kilograms
Launch vehicle
Soyuz-2-1b (14S53) No. S15000-054
Launch site
Payload fairing
81 KS-UM 1000-0 No. T 15000-001
Liftoff date and time
2021 Nov. 24, 16:06:35.042 Moscow Time
Docking date and time
2021 Nov. 26, 18:19:39 Moscow Time
PAO undocking date and time
2021 Dec. 22, 01:20:30 Moscow Time (planned)
Docking destination
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Prichal's launch profile

launch

A Soyuz-2-1 rocket, carrying a stack of the Prichal module and its Progress M-UM space tug, lifted off as scheduled from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on Nov. 24, 2021, at 16:06:35.042 Moscow Time (8:06 a.m. EST, 13:06 UTC).

Following vertical liftoff under the combined thrust of the four RD-107 engines on the first stage and the single RD-108 of the second (core) stage, the launch vehicle headed eastward from Baikonur, matching its ground track to an orbit inclined 51.67 degrees to the plane of the Equator. The four first-stage boosters separated nearly two minutes into the flight (at L+117.8 seconds) at an altitude of around 40 kilometers, while the core booster of the second stage continued firing until 4.7 minutes into the flight (L+287.7 seconds).

The third stage ignited moments before the separation of the second stage, firing its four-chamber RD-0124 engine through a lattice structure connecting the two boosters and ensuring a continuous thrust during the separation process.

Nearly 10 seconds after the second and the third stages parted ways at an altitude of around 150 kilometers, the aft section of the third stage split into three segments and fell off (at L+296.9 seconds), followed half a second later by the splitting of the payload fairing into two halves (at L+297.3 seconds). All five fragments were expected to fall in the same general area downrange from the launch site.

The third stage continued operating until 559.94 seconds into the flight, releasing its payload into an initial parking orbit well within specifications at 16:15:58 Moscow Time (L+563.24 seconds):

Parameter
Planned orbit
Actual orbit
Orbital period
88.58 minutes (+/–0.04 minutes)
88.58 minutes
Orbital inclination
51.67 degrees (+/–0.033 degrees)
51.67 degrees
Perigee (lowest point)
193 kilometers (+/–2.0 kilometers)
192.64 kilometers
Apogee (highest point)
245 kilometers (+/–7.0 kilometers)
244.76 kilometers

According to Roskosmos and NASA, the ascent and orbital insertion of Prichal went flawlessly, with all its antennas and solar arrays confirmed as successfully deployed immediately after the separation of the module from the third stage of the launch vehicle, according to the following timeline:

  • 16:16:09 Moscow Time: The deployment of the Kurs rendezvous antennas;
  • 16:16:14 Moscow Time: The deployment of the RTS radio system antennas;
  • 16:16:19 Moscow Time: The deployment of two solar panels.

According to the Russian mission control, testing of the ship's Kurs rendezvous equipment was scheduled to take place from 16:17 to 16:27 Moscow Time. Next, between 17:43 and 17:52 Moscow Time, a drogue probe on the module's active docking mechanism was scheduled to extend in operational position for docking.

Prichal docks at ISS

approach

At the time of Prichal's launch, the ISS was in a 419.832 by 435.969-kilometer orbit over the Southern Atlantic.

For its ride from the initial parking orbit, where it was released by the launch vehicle, to the ISS, the Prichal Node Module will be integrated with a custom version (Insider Content) of the Progress cargo ship.

The Progress will use its own propulsion and flight control system to deliver and then permanently attach the Node Module to the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port of the MLM module on the Russian Segment of the ISS.

According to Roskosmos, the first two orbit maneuvers using the propulsion system of the Progress M-UM space tug were performed flawlessly stating at 19:45:19 and 20:35:35 Moscow Time on November 24. The third maneuver was scheduled at 17:31:45 Moscow Time on November 25.

After Prichal reached its orbit as planned, the undocking of the Progress MS-17 spacecraft to free the nadir port of the Nauka module took place on Nov. 25, 2021, at 14:22:30 Moscow Time.

The stage was then set for the fully automated docking of Prichal to Nauka on November 26, 2021, within three minutes from 18:25:28 Moscow Time (10:25 a.m. EST), following the standard two-day rendezvous profile with the station practiced during routine Progress resupply missions. Like for the rendezvous with the Nauka module in July 2021 (Insider Content), the ISS was turned 180 degrees with the Russian Segment oriented forward relative to the station's velocity vector on the eve of the encounter with the Prichal module. The station was then pitched 90 degrees, so that the main axis of the Nauka module (and the direction of Prichal's final approach) would be aligned with the orbital motion.

The autonomous rendezvous process on Nov. 26, 2021, between the module and the station was planned according to the following timeline:

Start of the autonomous rendezvous 16:03:21 Moscow Time
Activation of the rendezvous equipment on the Zvezda Service Module 16:54:18 Moscow Time
Activation of the rendezvous equipment on the cargo ship 16:55:18 Moscow Time
Flyaround and station-keeping period starts 18:03 Moscow Time
Flyaround and station-keeping period ends 18:16 Moscow Time
Berthing starts 18:16 Moscow Time
Berthing ends 18:26 Moscow Time
Contact 18:26:57 Moscow Time
Docking process begins 18:27 Moscow Time
Docking process ends 18:47 Moscow Time

According to the mission control in Korolev, during the autonomous rendezvous, Progress M-UM was scheduled to perform six impulse burns using its main SKD engine and DPO attitude-control thrusters:

No.
Moscow Time
Range to ISS
Velocity change
Burn duration
Engine used
1
16:31:57
325.41 kilometers
8.14 m/s
26.8 sec.
SKD
2
16:45:59
197.09 kilometers
1.52 m/s
43.0 sec.
DPO
3
17:11:38
78.63 kilometers
27.23 m/s
78.0 sec.
SKD
4
17:52:47
2.12 kilometers
5.54 m/s
19.6 sec.
SKD
5
17:57:09
1.02 kilometers
5.78 m/s
86.6 sec.
DPO
6
18:00:17
0.59 kilometers
1.53 m/s
29.4 sec.
DPO

Progress M-UM was projected to intercept the station during its 33rd orbit, which was projected to have a perigee of 384.171 kilometers and an apogee of 428.521 kilometer. At the same time, the station was expected to be in 420.109 by 435.623-kilometer orbit.

As usual, at the time of a final approach, cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Petr Dubrov activated the TORU manual control rendezvous system in a stand-by mode in case of any problems with the Kurs-NA automated system.

The propellant supplies aboard the Progress M-UM spacecraft enabled a second rendezvous attempt with the station, if needed, while reserving a cache for the subsequent deorbiting of Progress M-UM's aggregate module.

However, according to NASA and Roskosmos, Prichal's first rendezvous attempt with the ISS went flawlessly followed by a 45-degree flyaround of the station starting from a distance of around 400 meters, during Prichal's 34th orbit. At that point, the module was projected to be in a 402.498 by 429.866-kilometer orbit, while the station was in a 420.162 by 435.585-kilometer orbit.

Prichal then initiated the automated final approach achieving contact at 09:19 Houston Time (10:19 EST, 18:19 Moscow Time, 15:19 UTC) or six minutes ahead of schedule, according to NASA. Immediately after the mechanical capture of the docking ports, live TV images showed a considerable motion of the newly arrived spacecraft relative to the station, but soon data from the Russian mission control in Korolev confirmed that all electric interfaces and a hard mate between the two vehicles had been successfully achieved by 18:23:09 Moscow Time.

According to the telemetry data displayed by the mission control in Korolev, the docking process was performed along the following timeline:

Milestone
Moscow Time
Mechanical capture
18:19:39 Moscow Time
Connectors docking
18:24:26 Moscow Time
Interface aligned
18:23:00 Moscow Time
Interface hard-mated
18:24:33 Moscow Time

 

Mission control also registered the completion of the following milestones during docking:

Contact
Completed
18:19:39 Moscow Time
Presence of mechanical capture
Completed
18:19:39 Moscow Time
The movement of the docking probe
404.157 millimeters
18:23:11 Moscow Time
Electric connector docking:
 

Connector No. 1

Completed
18:24:17 Moscow Time

Connector No. 2

Completed
18:24:28 Moscow Time

Connector No. 3

Completed
18:23:00 Moscow Time

Connector No. 4

Completed
18:23:00 Moscow Time
Interface closure
Completed
18:23:00 Moscow Time

On the same day, at 22:39 Moscow Time, Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Petr Dubrov opened hatches into the new module and entered its interior, Roskosmos said.

 

Future operations

As of November 2021, the separation of the aggregate compartment, PAO, of the Progress M-UM space tug from Prichal was scheduled for Dec. 22, 2021, at 01:20:30 Moscow Time (5:20 p.m. EST on December 21). The PAO module would be deorbited over the Pacific Ocean three orbits after its departure from the station.

The undocking of the space tug will open the access to the passive docking port along the Prichal's +X axis.

During its trip to the station, the Prichal delivered around 0.5 ton of cargo to the station:

Hardware for onboard systems
163.1 kilogram
Means of medical support
64.4 kilograms
Personal protection equipment
26.8 kilograms
Sanitary and hygiene equipment
57.3 kilograms
Means of servicing and repair
2.9 kilograms
Complex of means for the crew support
5.7 kilograms
Food
163.2 kilograms
Structural components and additional hardware
1.2 kilograms
Equipment for EVA
5.9 kilograms
Operational hardware for the Node Module
93.6 kilograms
Total cargo mass
584.1 kilograms

 

Next chapter: Integrating Prichal Node Module with ISS (INSIDER CONTENT)

insider content

 

Writing, photography and illustrations by Anatoly Zak, unless credited otherwise; Last update: November 28, 2021

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: November 23, 2021

All rights reserved

 

insider content

 

docking

Soyuz-2-1b rocket within Prichal module shortly after its arrival at launch pad on Nov. 21, 2021. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


docking

Prichal lifts off on Nov. 24, 2021. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


docking

Second stage separation from the Soyuz rocket. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Aft skirt separates from the third stage of Soyuz rocket. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Soyuz drops its payload fairing around Prichal module. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Prichal ascent orbit on the third stage of the Soyuz rocket. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Prichal separates from the third stage of the launch vehicle. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

A custom-built space tug (INSIDER CONTENT) will be used to boost the Prichal Node Module from its initial orbit to the ISS. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Prichal during its final approach and docking at the ISS. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Prichal approaches the ISS as seen by cosmonauts from the ISS. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


docking

Prichal performs the final approach to ISS on Nov. 26, 2021. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2021 Anatoly Zak


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