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Russia Launches Progress Resupply Ship to Space Station

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 28, 2021
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BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — In accordance with the approved Russian schedule of flights to the International Space Station, today, October 28, 2021 the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Progress MS-18 cargo spacecraft launched successfully at 00:00:32 UTC from Launchpad 6 (Vostok) of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. In 8 minutes 48 seconds after liftoff the spacecraft and the third stage of the carrier separation was confirmed, the solar panels and antennas were deployed.

The Chief Operating Control Group of the International Space Station Russian segment (RSC Energia, part of Roscosmos) specialists took over the flight control. According to the telemetry information received by Roscosmos Central Information Post, the rocket routinely injected the Russian spacecraft into the target orbit with the following parameters:

  • Orbital period: 88.54 min;
  • Orbital inclination: 51,67 degrees;
  • Minimum orbital altitude: 193,04 km;
  • Maximum orbital altitude: 240.57 km.

The autonomous flight to the International Space Station will follow a standard two-day scheme, with docking to the Zvezda Service Module instrument compartment of the Russian Segment scheduled for October 30, 2021 at 01:34 UTC (±3 min). The docking is to be automatic under control of the TsNIIMash Mission Control Center specialists (part of Roscosmos) and the ISS-66 Expedition Russian crewmembers, Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov.

The new ship will deliver about 1,490 kg of various equipment and materials, including expendable equipment and instruments for extravehicular activities under the Russian program, medical control and sanitation supplies, clothing, food rations and fresh food for the 66th long-term expedition crewmembers, as well as stowages for the following space science experiments: Matryoshka-R, Biomag-M, Aseptik, Struktura and Photobioreaktor. The vehicle also carries 560 kg of fuel, 420 liters of drinking water in the Rodnik system tanks and 43 kg of compressed air in oxygen supply tanks.

In connection with the celebration of the 800th anniversary of Nizhny Novgorod in 2021 and under the cooperation agreement between Roscosmos and the Government of Nizhny Novgorod region, the rocket bears the symbols of the event.

In addition, within cooperation between Roscosmos and PJSC Sberbank of Russia, the Sberbank logo was placed on the payload fairing in honor of the 180th anniversary of Sberbank, which will be celebrated on November 12.

Soyuz-2.1a is a three-stage medium class rocket, a modified version of the Soyuz-U rocket. It is designed to support launches of spacecraft for military, national economy and social purposes.

The launch vehicle was developed and manufactured at Progress Rocket and Space Center (Samara, part of Roscosmos). It is equipped with a new digital control system common to all three stages, as well as a new digital radio telemetry system. The digital control system on the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle has improved the launch accuracy, stability and controllability of the launch vehicle, and allowed the use of large fairings.

All the engines of the launch vehicle operated normally, including the RD-107/108 family engines of first and second stages developed by NPO Energomash (part of Roscosmos) and the third stage RD-0110 engine developed at the Voronezh Rocket Engine Center (also a Roscosmos enterprise).

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