Russians Launch Progress Supply Freighter to Space Station

Soyuz launches Progress supply ship on June 14, 2017. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR SPACE CENTER, Kazakhstan, June 14, 2017 (Roscosmos PR) — The launch vehicle (LV) Soyuz-2.1a with cargo spacecraft Progress МS-06 successfully lifted off from Baikonur Space Center at 12:20 MT.

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NASA TV to Cover Progress Launch

Launch of Progress 66.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NASA PR) — NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft delivering almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the International Space Station beginning at 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 14.

Launch of the unpiloted Russian Progress 67 is scheduled for 5:20 a.m. Wednesday (3:20 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Khrunichev’s Proton Woes Continue

Proton on launch pad (Credit: ILS)

Khrunichev’s Proton rocket, which has been grounded since an in-flight anomaly last June, continues to experience serious problems with quality control, Russian media reported last week.

An investigation into quality control issues in the Russian space industry has discovered that nearly every engine currently stockpiled for use in Proton rockets is defective, the RIA Novosti news agency reported March 30, citing Igor Arbuzov, head of state rocket engine manufacturer Energomash.

71 engines, mostly used to power the second and third stages of the Proton rocket, require complete overhauls to remove defects. Arbuzov did not specify what was wrong with the engines….

“Most of the work will be done in 2017, but we understand that some portion will inevitably slip into 2018,” Arbuzov said. “Our main goal is to avoid disrupting the government space program’s launch schedule, or the schedules of the Defense Ministry and commercial customers.”

In January, Russian officials said they were investigating quality control problems at the Voronezh Mechanical Plant where engines for the Proton and Soyuz boosters are manufactured. Specifically, they believed a less heat resistant metal had been used in second- and third-stage engines.

Officials ordered the recall of all second- and third-stage engines built for the Proton launch vehicles. Third-stage engines for the Soyuz-U and Soyuz-FG boosters were also replaced.

Russian media reported last week that Progress Space Rocket Center, which manufacturers Soyuz boosters, had received four tested third-stage engines from the Voronezh Mechanical Factory.

Last June, a Proton rocket suffered a second-stage anomaly while launching the Intelsat 31 communications satellite. The third stage compensated for the under performance of the second stage, delivering the spacecraft to its intended orbit.

In December, a Progress freighter bound for the International Space Station was lost after a Soyuz rocket malfunctioned.

Proton and Soyuz are the mainstays of the Russian booster fleet. Due to the on-going problems, Russia has only launched only twice during the first quarter of a year during which officials have promised to launch at least 30 times.

Last year, Russia conducted 18 successful launches in 19 attempts. It was the country’s lowest launch figure in years, leaving the nation in third place behind the United States and China.

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A Look at Launches in 2016

Atlas V launches the NROL-61 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Excerpt from

The Annual Compendium of
Commercial Space Transportation: 2017
Federal Aviation Administration
Office of Commercial Space
Transportation (FAA AST)

January 2017

2016 Launch Events

Space launch activity worldwide is carried out by the civil, military, and commercial sectors. This section summarizes U.S. and international orbital launch activities for calendar year 2016, including launches licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST). Countries and jurisdictions worldwide that possess functional and operating indigenous launch industries are the United States, Russia, China, European Union, India, Japan, Israel, Iran, North Korea, and South Korea. Several other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Indonesia, are developing launch vehicle technologies.

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Progress Resupply Ship Launched to ISS

Launch of Progress 66.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The unpiloted Russian Progress 66 launched at 12:58 a.m. Wednesday (11:58 a.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is now orbiting the planet on course for the International Space Station

The vehicle will deliver almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the Expedition 50 crew.

The spacecraft is set to dock to the Pirs docking compartment at 3:34 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 2:45 a.m. Progress 66 will remain docked at the station for almost four months before departing in June for its deorbit into Earth’s atmosphere.

This was the first launch of a Progress cargo ship from Baikonur since the Progress 65 supply craft was lost Dec. 1, 2016.

American, Russian Cargo Ships Set to Resupply Space Station

Dextre at the end of Canadarm2 preparing to remove cargo from Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

The Expedition 50 crew is gearing up for three different spaceships in two months to resupply the International Space Station. The crew also worked today on a variety of research hardware and practiced an emergency drill.

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RSC Energia Plans to Launch CubeSats From Progress Cargo Ships

Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia (a part of Roscosmos) has plans to involve the leading Russian scientific centers and universities into a project to launch small Cubesat satellites using cargo transportation spacecraft Progress MS.

The project calls for installation of special containers for insertion of small spacecraft into their target orbit on the outer surface of a cargo spacecraft. These might be commercial, educational or applied satellites with the size of up to 6U. Cargo spacecraft Progress MS are launched on a regular basis three times a year within the framework of logistics support for the International Space Station (ISS).

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Report: Proton, Soyuz Problems Traced to Engine Manufacturer

Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)
Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)

A report by Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com says problems that have grounded Russia’s grounded workhorse Proton and Soyuz boosters have a common origin: “egregious quality control problems” at engine manufacturer Voronezh Mechanical Plant (VMZ).

The Kommersant newspaper reported that a recent firing test had revealed technical problems with RD-0210 and RD-0212 engines, which propel the second and third stage of the Proton rocket respectively. The failure of the engine was reportedly traced to illegal replacement of precious heat-resistant alloys within the engine’s components with less expensive but failure-prone materials. The report in the Kommersant echoed the results of the investigation into the 2015 Proton failure, which found that low-quality material in the turbo-pump shaft of the engine had led to the accident.

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Russians Say Progress Vehicle Brought Down by FOD

Roscosmos_logoMOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) –Roscosmos emergency committee have reviewed investigation results of the contingency with Soyuz-U and cargo Progress MS-04 December launch from the Baikonur Space Center.

The cause of the accident was off-nominal mechanical separation of the launch vehicle’s third stage and the cargo spacecraft. The members of the emergency committee established the following:

  • The most likely cause of the contigency was the third stage liquid oxygen tank opening as a result of exposure of 11D55 engine destruction elements that occurred in result of fire and further destruction of the oxidizer compound pump.
  • The cause of the oxidizer compound pump’s fire could be possible in case of foreign particles entry into the pump cavity or possible violation 11D55 engine assembly technology.

The plan of priority actions to ensure the next Progress MS-05 secure launch will be submitted in the near future.

Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Part 2 of 2

There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

Part 1 of 2

The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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Another Year, Another Russian Launch Failure

The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: Roscosmos)
The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: Roscosmos)

They came so close this time.

In another four days, the Russians would have gone a full year without losing a spacecraft in a launch mishap. That’s something that hasn’t happened since 2009-10. In another 30 days, they would have gone an entire calendar year without a launch failure.

The loss of the Progress 65 cargo ship during its launch aboard a Soyuz-U rocket today marks the latest in a string of failures stretching back more than seven years. Since May 2009, Russia has suffered 13 launch failures and four partial failures involving its stable of satellite boosters. (See table below)

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Soyuz Launcher Suffers “Anomaly” During Progress Launch

The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: Roscosmos)
The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Mission Update From NASA
Dec. 1, 2016 — 11:29 a.m. EST

Launch of the ISS Progress 65 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred at 9:51 a.m. EST (8:51 p.m. Baikonur time). An anomaly occurred sometime during the third stage operation. As we get updates from Roscosmos, we will provide them.

Our astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts are safe aboard the station. Consumables aboard the station are at good levels.

An H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch to the space station on Friday, Dec. 9.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Progress 65 on Twitter, follow @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Editor’s Note, 9:32 a.m. PST: Reliable Twitter reports say Mission Control in Houston has informed International Space Station Commander Shane Kimbrough that the launch of the Progress supply ship has failed. The Russians have sent their Progress team home for the day and are forming a state commission to investigate the failure.

Editor’s Note, 9:11 a.m. PST: It appears the third stage may have cut out early, which would have put Progress in lower than planned orbit. There are unconfirmed social media reports from Russia of a large explosion in the sky, a large bang and falling debris, so Progress may have reentered the atmosphere. Let me stress these are unconfirmed reports at this time.

I’ll update this story as we learn more. You can also follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spacecom.

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Russia Eyes Launch of Progress Cargo Ship Replacement After 2020

Increased Capacity Cargo Transportation Spacecraft (Credit: RSC Energia)
Increased Capacity Cargo Transportation Spacecraft (Credit: RSC Energia)

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — The first launch of the Increased Capacity Cargo Transportation Spacecraft (ICCTS) for logistic support of the International Space Station (ISS) is possible after 2020.

Preliminary design work on the ICCTS is to be completed in December 2016, there are no plans to develop a cargo-return version of the spacecraft.

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Soyuz Repaired, Crew Flight Reset for Oct. 19

Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — After reviewing the documents on operations that were carried out to repair the technical malfunction of the Soyuz MS-02 manned transport vehicle (MTV) the State Commission resolved that the space ship may be launched to the International Space Station (ISS).

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