A little while ago the Progress MS-8 spacecraft docked with the International Space Station in the mission also referred to as Progress 68 or 68P. The Russian space freighter, which blasted off last Tuesday, is carrying food, water, scientific experiments, propellant and various hardware.
The Progress MS-8 cargo spacecraft regularly docked with the International Space Station’s Russian Zvezda 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-8 an appendix of the Station. At that point, they can begin the unloading operations.
Unfortunately a problem during the first attempt to launch the Progress MS-8 cargo spacecraft last Tuesday prevented the test of the 3.5-hour ultra-fast track. The test is postponed at least to the next Progress mission hoping that third time’s a charm.
A success would allow the ultra-fast track to be used also for the Soyuz manned spacecraft journeys. Reducing the duration of those journeys means keeping people in a situation where the only protection is that of the spacecraft for a shorter time.
The delay of the Progress MS-8 spacecraft has resulted in the delay of a spacewalk. Today, astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Norishige Kanai were supposed to complete a maintenance task on the Canadarm2 robotic arm, but that’s been postponed until tomorrow.
The mission of the Progress MS-8 space cargo includes another test, of a new type of external panels installed on the spacecraft’s exterior. The experiment called Phasoperekhod LEU-TT-1 consists of the presence of 3 radiators that have the purpose of improving the thermal control systems based on the use of ammonia. That’s a system similar to the one used on the International Space Station.
The mission of the Progress MS-8 spacecraft is substantially accomplished. In fact it can’t return to Earth so it will be filled with hardware failed or otherwise become unusable and assorted junk and will disintegrate returning into the Earth’s atmosphere. This mission epilogue will probably take place in late August 2018 but the exact date depends on various factors.