Progress MS-12 arrives at ISS
Russian specialists at Baikonur Cosmodrome launched a Soyuz-2-1a rocket on July 31, 2019, carrying the Progress MS-12 cargo ship on its way to the International Space Station, ISS. Upon reaching orbit in less than 10 minutes, the spacecraft began a two-orbit rendezvous process with the station, which resulted in docking with the Russian Segment in a record-breaking time for the ISS program of 3 hours and 19 minutes.
Progress MS-12 mission at a glance:
Progress MS-12 mission
According to Roskosmos, the Progress MS-12 cargo ship was slated to deliver 1.2 tons of dry cargo, more than a ton of propellant in the tanks of its refueling section, 420 kilograms of water inside the Rodnik tank system and 50 kilograms of gas in pressurized bottles. Roskosmos reported the total mass of payload aboard Progress MS-12 to be approximately 2,670 kilograms.
As of 2014, the launch of Progress MS-12 was planned for July 1, 2018. The mission was later re-scheduled for June 5, 2019, and July 31, 2019, at 15:13 Moscow Time. The liftoff had been initially set for the two-day rendezvous profile with the station, but the launch time was later shifted to 15:10 Moscow Time to enable a two-orbit (three-hour) flight to the station, concluding with the docking at around 18:35 Moscow Time on the same day.
Summary of cargo aboard Progress MS-12, according to the Russian mission control:
Breakdown of dry cargo in the pressurized compartment of the Progress MS-12, according to the Russian mission control:
On July 1, 2019, specialists at the spacecraft processing building at Site 254 in Baikonur completed vacuum testing of the spacecraft and on July 8, they performed the final test of the ship's solar panels with their exposure to an array of electric lights. The fueling of the spacecraft was finished by July 19, when the vehicle was returned to the processing building at Site 254 for final operations.
The loading of the ship's cargo was completed on July 22 and the next day, Progress MS-12 was attached to its launch vehicle adapter serving as an interface with its Soyuz-2-1a rocket. The final inspection of the ship and its subsequent encapsulation inside the payload fairing was performed on July 24.
The next day, the payload section was transferred from the spacecraft assembly building at Site 254 to the launch vehicle assembly building at Site 31 for integration with the rocket. On July 26, the payload was connected to the third stage of the launch vehicle and then the resulting upper composite was integrated with the first and second stages of the Soyuz-2-1a rocket on the transporter/erector. On the same day, the technical management and members of the State Commission gave green light to the rollout of the vehicle to the launch pad at Site 31.
Progress MS-12 mission profile
A Soyuz-2-1a rocket rocket carrying the Progress MS-12 cargo ship lifted off from Site 31 in Baikonur toward the International Space Station, ISS, on July 31, 2019, at 15:10:46.153 Moscow Time (8:10 a.m. EDT).
The separation of the Progress MS-12 spacecraft from the third stage of the launch vehicle toom place at 15:19:35 Moscow Time (8:19 a.m. EDT). Roskosmos did not disclose the planned parameters of the initial orbit, but reported that the spacecraft would be released into an orbit with an average altitude of 210 kilometers. According to NASA, at the moment of cargo ship's liftoff, the ISS was overflying Southern Kazakhstan at an altitude of 261 statute miles. The station had reached a border between Northern Mongolia and Southern Russia by the time, when the Progress MS-12 entered orbit, NASA said.
According to the Russian mission control, Progress MS-12 entered an initial orbit with the following parameters:
As originally planned, Progress MS-12 performed a two-orbit rendezvous with the station, aiming to dock at the nadir- (downward) pointing port of the Pirs Docking Compartment, SO1, a part of the Russian Segment of the ISS, 3 hours 25 minutes after liftoff, at 18:35 Moscow Time (11:35 a.m. EDT) on the day of the launch. That docking port was vacated by the Progress MS-11 cargo ship on July 29, 2019.
As usual, the rendezvous and docking operations were planned in a fully automated mode, the Russian mission control confirmed.
According to NASA, on July 29, cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov practiced working with the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, TORU, for the upcoming arrival of Progress MS-12. As in many previous Progress missions, the two cosmonauts will be at the TORU console inside the Zvezda Service Module, SM, ready to activate manual controls in the unlikely event of problems with the automated rendezvous system.
NASA also said that Progress MS-12 performed six impulse burns in the rendezvous process with the station.
The autonomous rendezvous process between Progress MS-12 and the station was planned according to the following timeline:
The actual docking was completed at 18:29:17 Moscow Time, setting a new record for reaching the ISS at 3 hours 18 minutes and 31 seconds.
According to the Russian mission control, the docking process had the following timeline:
After a nearly four-month mission to support the crew of the International Space Station, ISS, the Progress MS-12 cargo ship left the outpost on November 29, 2019. Filled with trash, the vehicle undocked from Pirs Docking Compartment, SO1, a part of the Russian Segment of the station at 13:25 Moscow Time (5:25 a.m. EST).
According to Roskosmos, Progress MS-12 initiated a braking maneuver at 16:39 Moscow Time (8:39 a.m. EST) resulting in the reentry into the Earth's atmosphere at 17:11 Moscow Time (9:11 a.m. EST) and the impact of any surviving debris of the vehicle in a remote stretch of the southern Pacific Ocean at 17:19 Moscow Time (9:19 a.m. EST) on November 29, 2019.
Progress MS-12 is being prepared for integration with the launch vehicle adapter on July 23, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Progress MS-12 rolls inside its payload fairing on July 24, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
The payload fairing used during the mission was emblazoned with the portrait of Dmitry Kozlov, the first head of what is known today as RKTs Progress, the manufacturer of the Soyuz rockets and several generations of military and civilian remote-sensing satellites. Kozlov, who died in 2009, would turn 100 in 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Payload section with the Progress MS-12 spacecraft is being prepared for transportation to the launch vehicle assembly building on July 25, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Fueling specialists working below the Soyuz-2-1a rocket with the Progress MS-12 spacecraft. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Progress MS-12 lifts off on July 31, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos