Russian Progress resupply mission docks with ISS hours after launch

The ISS had a resupply mission recently that lifted off in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz-2.1a booster. The resupply mission was Progress MS-09. About nine minutes after liftoff, the three-stage rocket released the Progress MS-09 spacecraft to continue its trip to the ISS.

Initially, the spacecraft extended its solar panels for power and navigation antennas and Progress fired its thrusters in the first hour of the mission with a major rocket burn going off without a hitch 44 minutes after liftoff. That firing allowed the spacecraft to adjust orbit and match the path of the ISS.

Less than four hours after liftoff the spacecraft made an automatic radar-guided connection with the ISS' Pirs docking compartment. That put the spacecraft about eight minutes ahead of schedule. This docking with the ISS needed only two orbits thanks to timing the launch of the spacecraft to coincide with the instant before the ISS passed over the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome.

When the Progress spacecraft lifted off, the ISS was orbiting about 370 miles southwest of Baikonur. When the cargo ship was in orbit the space station was about 1,004 miles ahead of it. This docking with the ISS was much faster than typical dockings carried out by US partners.

Cargo vessels operated by SpaceX and Northrop Grumman take several days to reach the ISS post-launch. NASA has stated that to make such a fast docking with the ISS, the station must be near the launch base and that the timing isn't available every day.

SOURCE: Spaceflightnow