The Russian Progress MS-20 spacecraft has reached the International Space Station

The Progress MS-20 spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)
The Progress MS-20 spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago, the Progress MS-20 spacecraft blasted off atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and was placed on its ultra-fast track in its resupply mission to the International Space Station also called Progress 81 or 81P. After almost 3.5 hours it reached the International Space Station docking with its Zvezda module.

The Zvezda module’s docking port was vacated by the Progress MS-18 cargo spacecraft, which left the Station on June 1 to disintegrate upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. It’s been nearly two years since the last time a Progress space freighter used the ultra-fast track, which requires very precise maneuvering and a favorable position of the Station.

The Progress MS-20 cargo spacecraft is carrying a total of about 2,500 kilograms of various types of supplies including food, water, air, oxygen, propellant, and more such as a series of products for the International Space Station crew, various science experiments, tools, and various hardware. In the next hours, the Station’s crew is scheduled to open the hatch and start unloading the cargo.

The mission of the Progress MS-20 spacecraft is accomplished. In fact, it can’t return to Earth, so it will be filled with hardware that failed or otherwise, became unusable and assorted junk and will disintegrate returning into the Earth’s atmosphere. This mission epilogue will probably take place in some months.

Despite the international tensions generated by the war in Ukraine, work on the International Space Station continues with the collaboration of the crew without distinction of nationality. The news came regarding a possible withdrawal of Russia already in the near future and even risks to the stability of the Station but in reality, the activity continues.

The Russian Roscosmos space agency recently announced an update of its plans for the Russian national space station. It’s one of the projects that has been in development for several years and in theory, it could start after 2024 if the collaboration with the International Space Station really ends. However, Roscosmos has been plagued by delays and various problems for quite some time and one of the consequences is that the new Russian modules of the Station were sent into orbit with more than a decade of delay. Basically, the statements arrive from Roscosmos with punctuality but the real timeline for the development of its programs remains cloudy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *