Last August was the first time the Russians had attempted to send their cargo spaceship to the Internation Space Station (ISS), and the launch was a disaster. However, the second time has seen a better result when the Russians successfully launched a freighter spacecraft carrying up to three tons of supplies which are needed for the manned mission.
Determine the future of any manned operations
A Soyuz rocket was used to carry a Progress M-13M spaceship and it was headed for ISS, blasting off from Baikonur at 10.11 GMT on Sunday. The mission has been organised to determine the future of any manned operations at the ISS.
From the time it was launched to the time it will arrive at ISS will be three days and it is expected that the spacecraft will dock on Wednesday. This has been that first launch of a Progress series cargo ship after the crash on August 24, which was the first time in more than three decades of regular launches.
The reason for the crash has been revealed and it was because the launch vehicle’s third-stage engine shut down prematurely and it was only discovered later that the problem was due to a low fuel feed. After this accident all engines that were in stock were returned to the manufacturer for necessary inspection.
However, since the crash there have been two further Soyuz launches both successful. It was only a few weeks ago that the rocket made its first foreign launch from the French Guiana. The purpose of the launch was to deliver the first elements of Europe’s new satellite navigation system to orbit.
After the crash the aircraft has been fitted with brand new engines, which are manufactured under stricter quality standards.
Contents of the Progress M-13M spacecraft include 2.9 tons of food, fuel and supplies. Which includes 1,653 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water and 3,108 pounds of maintenance gear, spare parts and any necessary hardware for experiments.
Cargo is not the reason so much attention is being given to the launch since the ISS has enough supplies to last for approximately a year of continuous operation, as discovered by NASA.
If the launch is successful it would open a path for further manned flights which will bring a brand new team to the ISS next month.
Astronauts Dan Burbank, Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov are already preparing to take over in the ISS on November 13. However, the go ahead will not be given unless the current unmanned launch leaves the station successfully.