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Russia’s Progress MS-20 cargo freighter is scheduled to launch Friday on an expedited three-and-a-half-hour rendezvous with the International Space Station to deliver about three tons of fuel, food and supplies for the seven-person lab. crew.
The Progress supply ship is scheduled to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:32 a.m. EDT (0932 GMT) on Friday aboard a Soyuz-2.1a rocket. Russian ground crews taxied the Soyuz booster to the Site 31 launch pad early Tuesday, then raised it vertically into liftoff position above the platform’s cavernous flame trench.
In the final hours before launch on Friday, Russian teams will load kerosene and liquid oxygen into the Soyuz rocket, then retract the gantry arms to reveal the vehicle in the final half hour of the countdown.
The rocket is marked with the word “Donbas”, the region in eastern Ukraine currently under attack by the Russian military. The Russian space agency has added a “Z” insignia to several recent Soyuz rockets. The “Z” commonly associated with support for Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
Soyuz’s main engines will rev up and fire at full throttle to propel the launch vehicle and Progress cargo ship off the platform. The launch is timed for when the Earth’s rotation brings the Baikonur launch site under the space station’s flight path.
More than 900,000 pounds of thrust from the rocket engines will propel the Soyuz northeast of Baikonur. The rocket’s four first-stage boosters will shut down and jettison about two minutes after liftoff, followed by the jettison of the aerodynamic fairing protecting the Progress spacecraft in the early stages of the launch.
The middle stage, or second stage, will fire for nearly five minutes, then separate to fall into a downstream impact zone. A third-stage engine will complete the job of putting the Progress MS-20 supply ship into orbit, culminating in the cargo ship’s deployment nearly nine minutes into the mission.
Solar arrays and navigation antennas will deploy on the Progress MS-20 spacecraft, which will perform a series of rendezvous burns to fine-tune its approach to the space station. The automated, radar-guided rendezvous is expected to conclude with docking in the aft port of the station’s Zvezda service module at 9:02 a.m. EDT (1302 GMT).
The inner harbor was liberated on Wednesday with the departure of the Progress MS-18 supply ship, which reentered the atmosphere and burned a few hours after leaving the station, eliminating several tons of waste.
The Progress MS-20 mission is known as Progress 81P in the Space Station Visiting Vehicle Schedule. This is the 81st Russian Progress resupply mission to launch to the International Space Station.
The Russian space agency said the Progress MS-20 freighter will deliver about 2.5 metric tons, or 5,500 pounds, of supplies, fuel and drinking water to the station. The Progress spacecraft carries hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide based propellants to refuel the Zvezda service module.
The Russian supply ship will also raise the orbital altitude of the space station and perform any burns necessary to move the station out of the path of space debris.
The Progress MS-20 resupply mission is the first of two cargo flights to the station scheduled for next week.
SpaceX prepares a Dragon cargo capsule for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket on June 9 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying a NASA Earth science instrument, experiments and other supplies to the space station .
Liftoff on June 9 is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT), followed by an automated docking to the station’s US-owned Harmony module on June 10.
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