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Progress Undocks From Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jul 1, 2009 7:36 am
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(NASA) – The Expedition 20 crew aboard the orbiting International Space Station bid farewell, for now, to an unpiloted Progress cargo craft Tuesday.

The ISS Progress 33 undocked from the Pirs docking compartment at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Roman Romanenko monitored the undocking and photographed the departing cargo craft to assess the condition of its docking assembly.

The Expedition 20 crew aboard the International Space Station talks with students from the 2009 International Space University Space Studies Program. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 20 crew aboard the International Space Station talks with students from the 2009 International Space University Space Studies Program. Credit: NASA TV

The Progress will continue to move away from the station until Friday, when the vehicle will perform a retrograde burn to place the spacecraft into a parking orbit. Another burn on July 11 sets up the Progress for its final rendezvous with the station on July 12. The cargo ship will approach to within 10 to 15 meters of the Zvezda service module to test new automated rendezvous equipment mounted on Zvezda during a pair of spacewalks earlier this month. This equipment will be used to guide the new Mini-Research Module-2 (MRM2) to an unpiloted docking to the zenith port of Zvezda later this year. MRM2 will serve as a new docking port for Russian spacecraft and an additional airlock for spacewalks conducted out of the Russian segment.

Also on Tuesday, Flight Engineer Mike Barratt spent some time troubleshooting AgCam, the Agriculture Camera experiment sponsored by the University of North Dakota. Barratt checked the experiment’s software and performed diagnostic tests on its hardware. AgCam is designed to capture images of vegetated areas on the Earth from space to assist farmers, ranchers, foresters, natural resource managers and tribal officials.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Frank De Winne worked with the InSpace 2 experiment, preparing and inspecting vials to validate samples prior to performing any tests with them. InSpace investigates fluids that change properties in response to magnetic fields. This technology could help engineers develop new brake systems and robotics and improve the ability to design structures, such as bridges and buildings, to better withstand earthquake forces.

In the Japanese Kibo module, Flight Engineer Bob Thirsk began activities to prepare the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility for a study of the Marangoni effect, which is the flow of liquids caused by surface tension.

Thirsk later joined the rest of his Expedition 20 crewmates, including Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata, for a live interactive event with students from the 2009 International Space University Space Studies Program. The students are studying the payload design process and have an experiment currently on the station.

Padalka, Barratt and Wakata are set to relocate their Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft on Thursday. The crew members will undock the vehicle from the aft port of Zvezda at 5:26 p.m. and dock to Pirs about 30 minutes later, clearing the way for the arrival of the next Progress supply ship. NASA TV coverage of the Soyuz move begins at 5 p.m.

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