The Russian spacecraft Progress MS-5 has reached the International Space Station

The docking with the International Space Station seen from the Progress MS-5 cargo spacecraft (Image NASA TV)
The docking with the International Space Station seen from the Progress MS-5 cargo spacecraft (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the Progress MS-5 spacecraft docked with the International Space Station inthe mission also referred to as Progress 66. The Russian space freighter, which blasted off last Wednesday, is carrying food, water, scientific experiments, propellant and various hardware.

The Progress MS-5 cargo spacecraft regularly docked with the International Space Station’s Russian Pirs module using the automatic system that allows Russian spacecraft a direct berthing. During the week the crew will proceed with the opening of the hatch and the procedures to make the Progress MS-5 an appendix of the Station. At that point, they can begin the unloading operations.

Generally a space cargo ship’s unloading operations start on the day after its arrival and continue more or less for week following the arrival. However, the Progress MS-5 came a day after the Dragon, an event due to delays by Roscosmos and SpaceX that led to this coincidence so the unloading operations will take longer.

The mission of the Progress MS-5 spacecraft is substantially accomplished. In fact it can’t return to Earth so it will be so filled with hardware failed or otherwise become unusable and assorted junk and will disintegrate returning into the atmosphere. This mission epilogue will take place in about six months, tentatively in June 2017, but the exact date depends on various factors.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has provided no information about the tests of the onboard systems. The Progress MS-5 cargo space ship accomplished its mission and this is the important thing after the failure of the previous resupply mission. In recent years there have been various problems in the quality of the operations connected to Russian space missions and if they won’t be solved the risks of failures will keep on being high.

Sometimes Russia announces enhancements to its space program such as its own space station and manned missions to the Moon. Typically after some time there’s news that indicate new dates for the projects a few years later than the originals. In the case of supplies to the International Space Station Russia’s commitment is now and should be honored.

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