Russian Progress Resupply Ship Docks with International Space Station

Progress MS-18 fires thrusters as it approaches the International Space Station. (Credit: Pyotr Dubrov)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — In accordance with the Russian flight program of the International Space Station, on October 30, 2021, at 04:31:19 Moscow time, the Progress MS-18 transport cargo vehicle was docked. The operations of docking and docking to the Zvezda service module were carried out automatically under the control of specialists from the Mission Control Center of TsNIIMash, the Main Operational Control Group of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation named after S.P. Korolev (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) and the Russian crew members of the ISS-66, Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov.

The Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle with the Progress MS-18 cargo vehicle had been launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome two days earlier. The launch took place in the normal mode on October 28 at 03:00:32 Moscow time from the launch pad number 31 (“Vostok”). After 528.9 seconds, the spacecraft was launched into the target orbit and deployed the solar panels according to the flight sequence. It was the 18th Russian space launch in 2021.

The space “truck” delivered cargoes with a total mass of more than 2.5 tons to the ISS, necessary to maintain its flight in a manned mode and implement the Russian program of scientific and applied research. Among them: 1,490 kg of various equipment and materials, including resource equipment and tools for extravehicular activities, medical control and sanitary and hygienic supplies, clothing items, standard food rations and fresh food for the crew of the 66th main expedition, as well as 560 kg of refueling fuel, 420 liters of drinking water in the tanks of the Rodnik system and 43 kg of compressed air in the cylinders of oxygen supply devices.

In addition, a set of target loads was delivered to the station as part of the implementation of the Russian program of scientific and applied research and experiments:

  • Matryoshka-R  – study of the dynamics of the radiation situation in orbit and the accumulation of dose in spherical and anthropomorphic phantoms;
  • Biomag-M  – study of changes in the properties of biological objects and the possibility of increasing their activity under conditions of magnetic field shielding under the influence of the main factors of outer space;
  • Aseptic  – development of methods and technical means for monitoring the sterility of equipment;
  • Structure  – study of physical processes of protein crystallization to obtain perfect protein single crystals suitable for X-ray structural analysis and deciphering their structure in the interests of fundamental science, medicine and biotechnology;
  • Photobioreactor  – creation of a photobioreactor for conducting biotechnological experiments and obtaining food and oxygen by cultivating microalgae in microgravity.

After completing the necessary checks of the tightness of the joint, Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will open the transfer hatches and carry out the final operations to dismantle the docking mechanism, transfer the Progress power supply system to combined power and mothballing the cargo ship. According to the plan, the ship will stay with the International Space Station until the spring of 2022.

Progress MS is a Russian automatic transport spacecraft. It is part of the Progress family of cargo ships, which were created specifically for servicing orbital stations. Used to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, as well as to correct its orbit. The developer and manufacturer of the new modification “Progress MS” – Rocket and Space Corporation “Energia” named after S.P. Korolev (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation).

The Progress MS spacecraft has three compartments: a cargo compartment (for storing dry cargo and water), an instrument-and-assembly compartment, and a compartment for refueling components (for delivering fuel to the station). Length – 7.2 m, maximum diameter – 2.72 m, launch weight – about 7.3 tons. It can take a payload weighing about 2.6 tons.