Progress MS-26

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Progress MS-26 resupplies the ISS

The first Russian mission to the ISS in 2024 carries 2.5 tons of supplies to the international outpost aboard the Progress MS-26 spacecraft. Liftoff of the cargo vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan took place as scheduled in the morning local time on February 15. It successfully reached the station in early hours of February 17.

Previous mission: Progress MS-25


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Progress MS-26 mission at a glance:

Spacecraft designation(s) Progress MS-26, 11F615.0000A61-0, No. 456, ISS mission 87P
Launch vehicle Soyuz-2-1a, 14S53 No. M15000-068
Payload fairing SZB: 11S517A2.1000A1-0 No. M15000-136
Launch site Baikonur, Site 31, Pad 6
Mission Cargo delivery to the ISS
Launch date and time 2024 Feb. 15, 06:25:05.527 Moscow Time (actual); 06:25:06 (planned)
Docking date and time 2024 Feb. 17, 09:06:13 Moscow Time (actual); 09:12 (planned)
Docking destination ISS, Russian Segment, Zvezda Service Module, SM, (aft port)
Deliverable payload mass ~2.5 tons
Spacecraft mass at orbit insertion 7,427 kilograms
Flight duration 180 days
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According to Roskosmos, Progress MS-26 was slated to deliver around 2,518 kilograms of cargo to the 70th long-duration expedition aboard the ISS, including 580 kilograms of propellant in its refueling tanks, 420 kilograms of drinking water and 40 kilograms of pressurized nitrogen. The pressurized cargo section contained 1,458 kilograms of dry cargo, including replacement parts, food, medical and hygiene items, Roskosmos said.

Also onboard were materials for a number of science experiments, including BTN Neitron, Vektor-T, Kardiovektor, Korrektsiya, Neiroimmunitet, Orbita-MG, Perspektiva-KM and Fulleren. Materials for the Fulleren experiment were to be used for forming fullerite crystals inside the MEP-01 furnace aboard the Nauka module, aiming to produce a new class of semiconductors, Roskosmos said. The payload for the Perspektiva-KM experiment was a transformable structure made of a "shape memory" material and intended for installation on the exterior of the Poisk module, MIM2, during an upcoming spacewalk. Orbita-MG equipment was intended for trying out non-destructive diagnostics of the pressurized spacecraft hulls, according to Roskosmos.

Preparations for flight

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On May 16, 2023, RKK Energia shipped Progress MS-26 to Baikonur, after completion of assembly and integrated tests at its production plant in Korolev. The spacecraft arrived at the launch site on May 19, 2023. The Soyuz-2-1a rocket for the mission arrived at Baikonur and was delivered to vehicle assembly building at Site 112 on Sept. 11, 2023.

The launch was initially penciled for February 22, but by the middle of 2023, it was scheduled for Feb. 15, 2024.

The active preparation campaign for the mission started in mid-December 2023 with the tests of radio equipment in the anechoic facility at the processing complex of Site 254. On Dec. 18, 2023, the spacecraft was sent to a vacuum chamber for routine air-leak checks. After a period in a storage mode since the second half of December 2023, the preparations resumed on Jan. 11, 2024, with the filling of tanks of the Rodnik water supply system.

On Jan. 23, 2024, Roskosmos reported completion of solar panels light exposure tests. The work on the launch pad at Site 31 in preparation for the Progress MS-26 mission started on Jan. 30, 2024. By sFebruary 1, specialists from the Yuzhny branch of the TsENKI infrastructure division at Roskosmos and RKTs Progress company completed the assembly of the first- and second-stage boosters of the Soyuz-2-1a rocket for the mission. At the same time, Progress MS-26 was delivered to the fueling station at Site 31 for the loading of propellant components and pressurized gases. Upon completion of fueling, the spacecraft was returned to its work site inside the vehicle assembly building at Site 254.

On Feb. 7, 2024, Progress MS-26 was integrated with the launch vehicle adapter serving as an interface with the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle. The integration was concluded with test activation of the ship's command and telemetry system and preparations for the final visual inspection of the spacecraft, which took place on Feb. 8, 2024. On the same day, the spacecraft was rolled inside its protective fairing and, after a launch readiness test, the payload section was prepared for the transfer to the launch vehicle assembly building at Site 31 for integration with the launch vehicle. On Feb. 9, 2024, the payload section was transported by rail from Site 254 to Site 31.

On February 10, the payload section was integrated with the launch vehicle and the State Commission, overseeing the campaign, cleared the vehicle for rollout to the launch pad, which took place on the morning of Feb. 12, 2024.

Progress MS-26 launch profile

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A Soyuz-2-1a rocket, carrying the Progress MS-26 cargo ship lifted off from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur on Feb. 15, 2024, at 06:25:05.527 Moscow Time.

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 1 minute 58 seconds after liftoff (at 06:27:03 Moscow Time), 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 06:28:08 Moscow Time (3 minutes 3 seconds after liftoff), at an altitude of around 91 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 (at 06:29:52 Moscow Time), 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 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 on the ground.

The third stage inserted the cargo ship into an initial parking orbit 8 minutes 49 seconds after liftoff at an altitude of around 194 kilometers at 06:33:54 Moscow Time on February 15. The launch targeted the 240.0 by 183.1-kilometer orbit with an inclination 51.67 degrees toward the Equator.

According to mission control in Korolev, Progress MS-26 successfully deployed its systems, according to the following timeline:

  • Separation of the spacecraft from the third stage of the launch vehicle — 06:33:53 Moscow Time;
  • Deployment of radio antennas, RTS — 06:34:08 Moscow Time;
  • Deployment of solar panels — 06:34:13 Moscow Time;
  • Deployment of the rendezvous antennas — 06:34:05 Moscow Time.

First major task in orbit was the testing of the Kurs-NA rendezvous equipment, which was scheduled to take four minutes starting at 06:35 Moscow Time. Next, the ship's docking drogue would be extended into an operational position from 08:00 to 08:12 Moscow Time.

At the time Progress MS-26 reached orbit, the International Space Station was projected to be in a 417.164 by 433.367-kilometer orbit.

Rendezvous and docking

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The Progress MS-26 mission followed a two-day (50-hour 57-minute) rendezvous profile with the station. As usual, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, from the Soyuz MS-24 crew, were prepared to operate the TORU remote-control system aboard the Zvezda Service Module, SM, in the event of problems with the primary automated rendezvous system.

Progress MS-26 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 — 380.539 kilometers and an apogee — 419.302 kilometers. Around the same time, the ISS was flying in the 416.662 by 432.881-kilometer orbit.

As usual, the autonomous rendezvous process expected six major orbit-correction maneuvers using main SKD engine and small DPO thrusters on Feb. 17, 2024:

No.
Moscow Time
Range to ISS
Velocity change
Burn duration
Engine used
1
07:11:02
387.63 kilometers
28.65 m/s
74.4 sec.
SKD
2
07:33:16
183.11 kilometers
1.25 m/s
32.4 sec.
DPO
3
07:56:51
76.91 kilometers
27.95 m/s
73.4 sec.
SKD
4
08:37:31
2.15 kilometers
5.67 m/s
17.2 sec.
SKD
5
08:41:59
1.03 kilometers
5.05 m/s
76.4 sec.
DPO
6
08:44:54
0.61 kilometers
1.43 m/s
13.0 sec.
DPO

The autonomous rendezvous process between Progress MS-26 and the ISS was planned according to the following timeline:

Start of the autonomous rendezvous 06:48:31 Moscow Time
Activation of the rendezvous equipment on the Zvezda Service Module 07:37:31 Moscow Time
Activation of the rendezvous equipment on the cargo ship 07:38:31 Moscow Time
Flyaround starts 08:48 Moscow Time
Flyaround completed and station-keeping period starts 09:00 Moscow Time
Final approach starts 09:00 Moscow Time
Final approach completed 09:11 Moscow Time
Contact 09:11:11 Moscow Time
Docking process begins 09:11 Moscow Time
Docking process ends 09:28 Moscow Time

Following the rendezvous, Progress MS-26 was scheduled to make a 92-degree flyaround of the station to align itself with the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM.

The flyaround was initiated at around 08:46 Moscow Time at a distance of around around 380 meters from the station and it was successfully completed at around 08:55 Moscow Time.

The automatic docking was scheduled for Feb. 17, 2024, at 09:12 Moscow Time (01:12 a.m. EST), but the actual contact and capture took place at 09:06:13 Moscow Time (1:06 a.m. EST).

The probe retraction and the closure of the hooks between the cargo ship and the station was completed at 09:11:25 Moscow Time, according to the Russian mission control in Korolev.

Progress MS-26 had to be unloaded as quickly as possible in order to close hatches into the Zvezda Service Module due to increased leak from the PrK chamber (INSIDER CONTENT), which connected Zvezda's main pressurized volume to the aft port. According to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononeko, quoted by TASS on Feb. 20, 2024, Progress MS-26 was unloaded in just one and a half day.

Progress MS-26 performs ISS orbit correction

On Feb. 24, 2024, propulsion system of the newly arrived Progress MS-26 spacecraft was used to boost the ISS orbit in preparation for the launch of the Soyuz MS-25 crew vehicle and the landing of Soyuz MS-24. According to Roskosmos, propulsion system of the cargo ship was activated at 03:21 Moscow Time (7:21 p.m. on February 23) and fired for 1,053.12 seconds, increasing the station's velocity by 1.73 meters per second.

As a result of the maneuver, the station's average altitude increased by 3.04 kilometers and reached 418.72 kilometers, Roskosmos said citing data from the Russian mission control (INSIDER CONTENT).

Progress MS-26 performs second ISS orbit correction

Another orbit adjustment in preparation of the Soyuz MS-25 crew vehicle launch and the landing of Soyuz MS-24 was conducted on March 14, 2024.

According to Roskosmos, propulsion system of the Progress MS-26 cargo ship was activated at 16:11 Moscow Time (13:11 UTC, 9:11 a.m. EDT) and fired for 1,096.7 seconds, increasing the station's velocity by 1.59 meters per second.

As a result of the maneuver, the station's average altitude increased by 2.8 kilometers and reached 419.53 kilometers, Roskosmos said citing data from the Russian mission control (INSIDER CONTENT).

 

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This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak; Last update: May 29, 2024

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: February 14, 2024

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Progress MS-26 (left) is being prepared for integration with its launch vehicle adapter, while two other cargo ship awaiting processing at Site 254 in Baikonur in February 2024. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


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Shortly after its encapsulation under the payload fairing, Progress is installed back into its work site for final tests. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


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Soyuz-2-1a rocket with Progress MS-26 is installed on the launch pad. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


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Separation of the first stage boosters as seen by an onboard camera during the launch of Progress MS-26 on Feb. 15, 2024. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


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Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA

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International Space Station as seen via an engineering camera aboard the Progress MS-26 spacecraft during its flyaround of the station on Feb. 17, 2024. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA