Progress MS-24 arrives at ISS
The third and penultimate Progress cargo ship of 2023 lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the morning of Aug. 23, 2023, with around 2.5 tons of cargo for the crew of the International Space Station, ISS. The spacecraft successfully docked at the outpost on Aug. 25, 2023.
Progress MS-24 mission at a glance:
According to Roskosmos, the Progress MS-24 spacecraft was expected to carry the usual supply of propellant, water, food and other consumables for the ISS crew. The pressurized compartment included materials for the following science experiments (INSIDER CONTENT): Aseptik, Biodegradatsiya, Biomag-M, Kardiovektor, Struktura, Terminator, Splankh, Pilot-T, Probiovit, Uragan, Virtual, OMIKi-SPK, LAZMA, Vzaimodeistvie-2
Progress MS-24 launch campaign
Progress vehicle Production No. 454 (MS-24) was delivered to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December 2022, but its processing at the launch site started on June 21, 2023. From July 15 to July 20, specialists in Baikonur performed pressure testing of the spacecraft inside a vacuum facility at Site 254. The spacecraft was then returned to its work site in the same building.
On July 28, 2028, specialists performed testing of the solar panels aboard the cargo ship. The payload fairing for the mission was assembled at Site 254 by August 5, 2023 and, in parallel, the propulsion system of the Soyuz-2 rocket for the mission underwent pressurization tests inside the vehicle assembly building at Site 31. The boosters of the first stage were attached to the second (core) stage of the rocket by Aug. 9, 2023, while the spacecraft was being prepared for loading of propellant and pressurized gases at the fueling station at Site 31.
After the return of the spacecraft back to Site 254 after fueling, it was docked to its launch vehicle adapter on Aug. 15, 2023.
On Aug. 16, 2023, specialists conducted the final visual inspection of the spacecraft and then rolled it inside its payload fairing assembly, followed by the launch readiness simulation. The payload section was then transferre to the vehicle processing building at Site 31 on August 17, where it was inegrated with a Soyuz rocket.
On the morning of August 20, 2023, the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle with the Progress MS-24 cargo ship was rolled out to the launch pad at Site 31.
Progress MS-24 flight profile
Following a 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 one minute 58 seconds after liftoff, at an altitude of around 43 kilometers, followed by the split and drop of the two halves of the payload fairing slightly more than a minute later, at an altitude of around 90 kilometers, just above the dense atmosphere and around 200 kilometers downrange. In the meantime, the second stage continued firing until 4 minutes and 47 seconds into the flight, bringing the vehicle to around 143 kilometers above the planet and a speed of around four kilometers per second, some 500 kilometers downrange from the launch site.
The third stage then ignited moments before the separation of the second stage, firing its RD-0110 engine through a lattice structure connecting the two boosters and ensuring a continuous thrust during the separation process. A fraction of a second after the boosters of the second and third stage parted ways, the aft cylindrical section of the third stage split into three segments and dropped off, ensuring the fall of the second stage and the aft section into the same area.
The third stage continued firing and inserted the cargo ship into an initial parking orbit eight minutes 49 seconds after liftoff at an altitude of around 193 kilometers.
Shortly after the launch, the US Space Force cataloged Progress MS-24 and the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1a rocket in a 188 by 224-kilometer orbit with an inclination 51.7 degrees toward the Equator.
Progress MS-24 docks at the ISS
The Progress MS-24 was scheduled to begin an autonomous rendezvous with the ISS during the cargo ship's 34th orbit, which was expected to have the following parameters: a perigee — 378.882 kilometer and an apogee — 419.778 kilometers. Around the same time, the ISS was flying in the 414.037 by 434.536-kilometer orbit.
As usual, the autonomous rendezvous process included six major orbit-correction maneuvers using main SKD engine and small DPO thrusters on Aug. 25, 2023:
The autonomous rendezvous process between Progress MS-24 and the ISS was planned according to the following timeline:
Progress MS-24 was scheduled to dock at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM, a part of the Russian ISS Segment, on Aug. 25, 2023, at 06:50 Moscow Time (11:50 p.m. EDT on August 24). The actual contact and capture was recorded at 06:45:20 Moscow Time (11:45 p.m. EDT on August 24), as the two spacecraft were flying over the South Pacific. The hooks in the docking interface were closed at 06:50:17 Moscow Time, according to the mission control in Korolev.
Progress MS-24 performs first station's orbit correction
On Sept. 9, 2023, the propulsion system of the Progress MS-24 spacecraft was used to perform the ISS orbit correction to prepare for the launch of the Soyuz MS-24 crew vehicle and the return of Soyuz MS-23. The propulsion system of the cargo vehicle was ignited at 21:52 Moscow Time and fired for 1,314.56 seconds, adding 2.05 meters per second to the station's velocity. As a result, the outpost's average altitude had increased by 3.5 kilometers reaching 419.24 kilometers, Roskosmos said.
Progress MS-24 puts ISS on path for the next cargo mission
On Sept. 29, 2023, the propulsion system of the Progress MS-24 spacecraft, docked at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM, was used again to adjust the station's orbital parameters for the rendezvous with the Progress MS-25 cargo ship scheduled for launch on Dec. 1, 2023.
The propulsion system of the cargo vehicle was ignited at 15:01 Moscow Time (12:01 UTC) and fired for 381.7 seconds, adding 0.55 meters per second to the station's velocity. As a result, the outpost's average altitude had increased by 860 meters, Roskosmos said.
Progress MS-24 lifts off on Aug. 23, 2023. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
Soyuz-2-1a rocket drops payload fairing during its ascent to orbit with the Progress MS-24 spacecraft on Aug. 23, 2023. Credit: Roskosmos
Soyuz-2-1a rocket drops tail section of the third stage, following the separation of the second stage at L+287.42 seconds into its ascent to orbit with the Progress MS-24 spacecraft on Aug. 23, 2023. Credit: NASA
Progress MS-24 separates from the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle on Aug. 23, 2023. Credit: NASA