Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Live in orbit: Progress docks safely despite glitches

Blogger update, 10:25 a.m.: The Expedition 20 crew has opened hatches to access Progress 34 spacecraft and its 2.5 tons of supplies.

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka this morning took over manual control of an approaching unmanned resupply ship and guided it to a soft docking at the International Space Station.

"Contact," Padalka said at 7:12 a.m., according to a Russian translator. "Contact, very soft contact, very nice. Capture."

"All right, Gennady, congratulations," said a Russian flight controller.

"And congratulations as well, thank you," replied Padalka. "Everything is very smooth and very nice."

Padalka took control of the Progress 34 spacecraft about 10 minutes before the docking, after its automated docking system did not perform properly and the Progress was not lined up for its final approach.

"It looks like the flyaround is over, but we're in the completely wrong configuration," a flight controller said. "You need to dock manually."

"Yes, in work, I'm going to go ahead and assume manual control," said Padalka.

He then steered the ship slowly to the back end of the Russian Zvezda Service Module.

The Progress carried 2.5 tons of supplies including water, food, oxygen, propellant and spare parts.

Those supplies are more important than ever now that the station has a full-time crew of six. The crew size doubled about two months ago.

Images: The Progress 34 cargo craft approaches the International Space Station for docking. Photo credit: NASA TV.


Anonymous said...

Do the Progress supply ships dock at the same port the shuttles dock?

Todd Halvorson said...


The Progress ships generally dock at the aft end of the Zvezda Service Module, if memory serves. There also are docking ports on Pirs as well as the Zarya (FGB) module.....and there will be additional ports on the Russian side after Russian Mini Research Labs (essentially copies of Pirs) are launched in the next year....

Anonymous said...

Oh, ok. Which port does the shuttle dock at, or is there more than one that it does?

Todd Halvorson said...


The shuttle docks at a berthing port on the side of the U.S. Harmony module.

Anonymous said...

i'm still holding my breath a little bit, ever since i originally heard that KURS was going to be used for ISS. Hopefully we'll never see any repeat of Mir's docking debacles.
This recent ISS docking was not a confidence booster.
It's only going to take one time - one serious crash - to drastically influence ISS ops.