Progress MS-17 making over 24 hour long relocation at space station

Progress MS-17 has temporarily departed the International Space Station in order to relocate its docking… The post Progress MS-17 making over 24 hour long relocation at space station appeared first on

Progress MS-17 making over 24 hour long relocation at space station

Progress MS-17 has temporarily departed the International Space Station in order to relocate its docking position to the station’s newest module, MLM Nauka.

Relocation began at 23:42 UTC (7:42 PM EDT) on Wednesday when the Russian resupply spacecraft autonomously undocked from the Russian Poisk module and backed away from the station to a distance of approximately 180-190 kilometers. Progress will perform station-keeping maneuvers in order to remain in the correct proximity to the space station and hold position for over 24 hours.

The spacecraft will then begin to approach the Nauka multipurpose laboratory, which became a new addition to the station in July, for a scheduled docking at 04:23 UTC (12:23 AM EDT) on Friday. The Progress spacecraft will occupy the nadir port, one of two on the Nauka module.

Russian cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov will be responsible for overseeing the relocation. However, the entire process should be automatically controlled by Progress. Both cosmonauts have been trained to take over the redocking operation should an issue arise, but nominally, the Kurs automated docking system will be used.

Progress MS-17 lifts off aboard Soyuz 2.1a in June – via NASA

Having been at the space station since July 2, Progress MS-17 will remain docked to the station until its permanent departure in late November. As with all Progress spacecraft, after their cargo has been used and their purpose no longer needed, the crew aboard the station will load the vehicle with spent and unwanted supplies which, once de-orbited, will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere along with the entire spacecraft itself.

Unlike the crewed Soyuz, Progress is designed to be a disposable resupply craft.

Significantly, Progress MS-17 will undock from Nauka with its HDA-to-SSVP (Hybrid Drogue Adapter to Probe and Drogue) docking adapter ring. Currently, the nadir port’s adapter is compatible with both Soyuz and Progress vehicles. However, the port will no longer service these vehicles, and instead will be the attachment point for Russia’s Prichal module.

By Progress removing the HDA-to-SSVP ring, it will revert the docking infrastructure to HDA, an adapter that gives a wider passageway and is thus particularly useful for permanent modules. Nauka was not launched in HDA configuration in the event that Prichal did not make it to the space station, which would render the sought-after port inaccessible for Soyuz and Progress vehicles.


NM Prichal during processing – via Roscosmos

NM (Node Module) Prichal is an addition to the Russian MLM Nauka and will provide four HDA-type docking ports to the Russian segment of the space station. The addition of docking ports would provide Russia and Roscosmos the opportunity to expand their segment.

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  • This prospect may not come to fruition in response to Russia looking at other opportunities away from the ISS this decade. Regardless, it is expected that Prichal will share servicing Soyuz vehicles with the Rassvet module, whilst Progress vehicles will dock to the Zvezda and Poisk modules.

    On Wednesday, after “go” was given for undocking, Progress released a series of hooks and latches followed by the spacecraft performing thruster firings to back away from the Poisk module. Unlike typical relocations, such as the recent Soyuz MS-18, Progress distanced itself from the station well beyond the “keep out sphere” to a distance of 180-190 kilometers.

    After backing away from the station, the spacecraft ensures that it maintains a precise position in space, known as station-keeping. In order to efficiently use its onboard propellant without excessive adjustments, it will station keep for over 24 hours.

    On Friday, Progress will begin to close in on the station once again, lining up with the nadir port of MLM Nauka until it eventually has contact and capture with the docking port. The docking probe will be captured by the docking cone, and by retracting the probe, Nauka will draw the spacecraft in toward the docking system to allow for the various hooks and latches to form a tight seal.

    This is expected to occur at 04:23 UTC (12:23 AM EDT) on Friday, should the relocation be on time and without issues. Once MS-17 is re-docked, the crew will be able to resume using the spacecraft.

    Prichal is tugged by a modified Progress craft toward the ISS – via Mack Crawford for NSF/L2

    Progress’ departure will be carefully timed around the launch of Prichal due to the significance of the APAS-to-SSPV adapter currently on Nauka’s nadir port. If this was removed and Prichal failed during launch, the Russian segment would lose an important docking port for the common visitors of Soyuz and Progress. Thus, MS-17 will return when Prichal is ready to take its place.

    In the meantime, Progress MS-18 will launch on October 28 at 00:00 UTC (October 27 at 8:00 PM EDT) aboard a Soyuz 2.1b from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft will dock to the aft port of the Zvezda module, a prime location for Progress spacecraft in order to perform ISS orbital reboosts using their main engines.

    It will deliver approximately three tonnes of food, fuel, and supplies to the ISS crew. Docking is expected at 01:34 UTC on Friday, October 29 (9:34 PM EDT on Thursday, October 28).

    It is currently expected that Prichal will be launched on November 24, also aboard a Soyuz 2.1b from Baikonur. Prichal will be launched with the Progress M-UM, an upgraded type of Progress specifically designed to carry Prichal to the station. After docking the new Russian segment to Nauka, Progress M-UM’s propulsion section will undock after 30 days and re-enter the atmosphere, leaving Prichal’s nadir port free.

    Spacewalks are planned in 2021 and 2022 in order to fully integrate Prichal to Nauka and complete the Russian segment’s newest additions.

    (Lead image: Progress MS-17 approaching to dock to the Poisk module in July – via NASA)

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    South Korea preparing KSLV-II for maiden launch

    South Korea’s second-generation launch system, Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV)-II, is gearing up for its… The post South Korea preparing KSLV-II for maiden launch appeared first on

    South Korea preparing KSLV-II for maiden launch

    South Korea’s second-generation launch system, Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV)-II, is gearing up for its maiden orbital launch. KSLV-II, also known as Nuri, was developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). Nuri is currently scheduled to lift off on October 21 at 07:00 UTC. The rocket’s launch window lasts from October 21 to October 28.

    This launch will carry a 1.5-ton mass simulator to a 700 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO). The flight will be the fourth orbital rocket launched by KARI.

    Development History

    Nuri is the second rocket in South Korea’s family of orbital launch vehicles. The country’s first orbital rocket was the KSLV-I, also known as Naro-1.

    Naro-1 first launched from Launch Complex-1 (LC-1) at the Naro Space Center on August 25, 2009. The first Naro-1 rocket was to carry the STSat-2A satellite to a Low Earth Orbit. The first stage performed nominally, and the vehicle successfully reached space.

    Naro-1’s first stage used a modified Russian-built Universal Rocket Module (URM)-1, powered by a kerosene/liquid oxygen (kerolox) RD-151 engine. The flight failed shortly after stage one shut down, due to the payload fairing failing to separate. The second stage was unable to reach orbit due to the extra mass of the still-attached fairing.

    The second stage used on Naro-1 was a South Korean-built solid-fuel rocket motor.

    Naro-1 on its third and final flight. (Credit: Khrunichev)

    The second launch of Naro-1 took place just under a year later on June 10, 2010. For this mission, Naro-1 attempted to take the STSat-2B to orbit. However, 137 seconds after launch, the launch vehicle was lost. The cause of the failure is still disputed.

    On January 30, 2013, the third and final Naro-1 successfully carried the STSat-2C to orbit. This launch made South Korea the 11th and most recent country to reach orbit.

    The Naro-1 was a relatively small launch vehicle, with STSat-2C massing only 100 kg. Nuri is a larger vehicle, capable of lifting 1,500 kg to low Earth orbit.

    Unlike Naro-1, Nuri is an all-South Korean-built rocket. Nuri is a three-stage launch vehicle, with all stages using Jet-A/LOX as propellants.

    The first stage is powered by four Jet-A/LOX KRE-075 engines. Each engine produces 735 kN of thrust and 298 seconds of specific impulse while in a vacuum.

    The KRE-075 uses a gas-generator cycle to power its turbopump. Altogether, the four engines produce 2,942 kN of thrust and burn for approximately 127 seconds.  The stage is 3.5 meters in diameter and stands 21.6 meters tall.

    Nuri’s first stage undergoing certification testing. (Credit: KARI)

    The second stage is powered by a single Jet-A/LOX KRE-075 vacuum engine. Although it is similar to the engines used on the first stage, the KRE-075 vacuum engine is optimized for use in the vacuum of space. This engine will produce 788 kN of thrust with a specific impulse of 315.4 seconds. During the flight, it will burn for approximately 148 seconds. The second stage has a diameter of 2.6 meters and a height of 13.6 meters.

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  • The third stage is powered by a single Jet-A/LOX KRE-007 vacuum engine. The engine will produce 68.7 kN of thrust with a specific impulse of 325 seconds while in a vacuum and will burn for approximately 500 seconds. The third stage will be the same diameter as the second stage and stand 3.5 meters tall. The entire rocket with its payload fairing will be 47.2 meters in length.

    The KRE-075 and KRE-007 have both been in testing since 2016. KARI is currently planning to conduct 200 tests of the KRE-075 and 150 tests for the KRE-007. This large number of tests are intended to improve the reliability and performance of the engines.

    In 2019, the KRE-007 successfully completed a 750-second test firing. This test proved the KRE-007 could operate for at least 500 seconds – the duration of its burn on the Nuri rocket. The KRE-075 conducted a similar test in March 2018 with a 220-second firing, proving its worth for the Nuri program.

    Following several successful tests of the KRE-075, KARI began testing and assembly of the KSLV-II Test Launch Vehicle (TLV). The KSLV-II TLV was a small-scale launch vehicle to test the KRE-075 along with several elements of the Nuri rocket during an actual launch.

    The test vehicle had a length of 25.8 meters, a diameter of 2.6 meters, and a total weight of 52.1 tons, similar in size to the Nuri second stage. The vehicle was planned to also feature a test version of the Nuri third stage, but this was dropped due to delays.

    KSLV-II TLV taking flight from LC-1. (Credit: KARI)

    The top half of the KSLV-II TLV was a mock-up of the Nuri third stage, while the bottom half featured the Jet-A/LOX tanks. The rocket also featured a mockup interstage, payload fairing, and satellite mass simulator.

    The vehicle used on KSLV-II TLV was tested during a full-duration hot-fire test in early 2018.

    In mid-2018, the rocket completed assembly and shortly after was rolled out to a modified LC-1 – the same pad that was used for Naro-1. On November 28, 2018, the KSLV-II TLV successfully launched from LC-1. The flight test was called a success by KARI shortly after the flight was completed. The KRE-075 engine successfully burned for 151 seconds, 11 seconds longer than planned. The rocket reached a maximum altitude of 209 kilometers before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

    A planned second flight was canceled due to the success of the first launch. The KSLV-II TLV still has a future, as KARI plans to turn the vehicle into a small satellite launcher. The small-sat launcher will use the KSLV-II TLV as the first stage and will likely use a methane/LOX second stage engine. The vehicle will carry up to 500 kg to a sun-synchronous orbit. This rocket will launch from LC-1 and could fly as early as 2025.

    Around the same time, other components of the Nuri program were tested and completed. In 2018, the payload fairing successfully completed a separation test. Launch Complex-2 (LC-2), Nuri’s brand-new launch pad, was completed in 2020. Unlike LC-1, LC-2 will use an umbilical tower to support Nuri. LC-2 is adjacent to LC-1 at the Naro Space Center.

    Launch Complex 2 (LC-2) at the Naro Space Center. (Credit: KARI)

    Throughout 2019-2021, the final certification tests ahead of Nuri’s maiden launch were completed. The completion of these tests green-lighted the assembly of the Nuri pathfinder. The pathfinder was rolled out to the LC-2 to allow fit-checks for the maiden flight. Shortly after, the flight vehicle was integrated and moved to the launch pad for pre-launch testing.

    In early September 2021, Nuri successfully completed a wet dress rehearsal (WDR). A WDR is a test where the rocket is loaded with actual propellants during a mock launch countdown. After the WDR, the vehicle was moved back to the assembly building for final launch preparations.

    Launch profile

    After final checkouts in the assembly building, Nuri was transferred to LC-2 on the morning of October 20.  Shortly after it arrived at the pad, the rocket was raised vertical for its launch.

    Once vertical, crews connected the pad umbilicals to the rocket. This allowed for electrical, communication, engine, and hydraulic tests on the rocket to be completed.

    The launch day preparations begin 7 hours before liftoff with final inspections of the launch equipment. At T-2 hours, both the Jet-A and LOX tanks begin filling with propellants. At T-1 hour and 20 minutes, propellant loading is completed for launch.

    At T-1 hour, the Nuri rocket stand is moved to its launch position. 30 minutes before liftoff, the go/no-go poll is run to certify that all systems are ready for launch. At T-10 minutes, the final countdown begins.

    Nuri undergoing testing while at LC-2. (Credit: KARI)

    At T-0, the engines will ignite and Nuri will lift off from LC-2 on its maiden flight. Shortly after liftoff, the rocket will begin a pitch program to a launch azimuth of 170 degrees. At T+55 seconds, the vehicle will become supersonic.

    At approximately T+ two minutes and seven seconds into the flight, the first stage will shut down and separate from the second stage. The second stage will then ignite shortly after.

    At T+ three minutes and 58 seconds, the payload fairing will separate, exposing the mass simulator to space. 34 seconds later, the second stage will shut down and separate from the third stage. The third stage will then ignite and change its launch azimuth from 170 to 191 degrees.

    The third stage will continue to burn until T+13 minutes and 18 seconds, where both the stage and the mass simulator will be in a 700 km orbit at an inclination of 98.2 degrees. Approximately three minutes later, the mass simulator will separate from the third stage, completing the test flight.

    Since this is a maiden flight, a successful outcome is not guaranteed. KARI gives the flight a 30% chance of succeeding.

    KARI is currently planning for a second orbital flight of the rocket. The mission will launch a 1.3-ton satellite to orbit along with a 0.2-ton performance-verifying satellite. This flight is currently scheduled for no earlier than May 19, 2022.

    Even before Nuri’s maiden flight, KARI has numerous upgrades planned for the vehicle. A possible engine upgrade is the KRE-087, which is a more efficient and powerful version of the KRE-075. The agency has also tested a new staged combustion cycle engine for upper-stage applications.

    These upgrades, along with others, will be used to create a brand-new rocket. The new vehicle will allow for significant payload mass to be launched to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and geostationary orbit (GEO). This future rocket will be used to lift KARI’s GEO satellites, lunar exploration probes, and lunar landers.

    (Feature image: Nuri test article undergoing fit-checks while at LC-2. Credit: KARI)

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