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Russian Cargo Craft Docks with Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:08 pm via: NASA
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The ISS Progress 46 cargo craft docked to the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station Friday at 7:09 p.m. EST. It began its two-day journey to the orbiting laboratory after a successful launch Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Oleg Kononenko monitored the docking while at the controls of TORU, the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system, ready to take manual control of the automated docking process if difficulties arose.

After conducting leak checks at the docking interface and opening the hatch to the cargo craft, the Expedition 30 crew members will begin the long process of inventorying and unloading its 2.9 tons of food, fuel and equipment. Once emptied, Progress 46 will be filled with trash and station discards and deorbited to burn in the Earth’s atmosphere like its predecessors.

Aboard the station Friday, Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Don Pettit, Andre Kuipers, Anatoly Ivanishin, Shkaplerov and Kononenko finalized docking preparations and continued ongoing science and maintenance activities. They also adjusted their sleep schedule to accommodate the cargo craft’s docking.

Meanwhile, flight controllers continue to monitor the orbit of a piece of Chinese Fengyun 1C satellite debris that poses a “medium” concern for a probability of conjunction with the station over the weekend. The conjunctions remain a “medium” concern due to the eccentricity of the debris’ orbit, solar activity and any slight fluctuation in the orbit of the station following the docking of the ISS Progress 46 cargo craft.

Ballistics officers at mission control began calculations for a possible debris avoidance maneuver for Saturday that would steer the station clear of the debris and replace a station reboost maneuver that is planned for next Wednesday. If carried out, the Zvezda service module thrusters would be fired at about 6:50 p.m. on Saturday, 55 minutes before the first of seven opportunities for the debris to make a close approach to the station.

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