A Russian Soyuz FG rocket, identical to that oneand forced the space station crew to have a dramatic abortion, managed to push the cargo ship into orbit Friday. This launch cleared the way for the resumption of airplane flights next month.
With its engine pushed to the brim, the Soyuz rocket, carrying a Progress cargo ship containing 2.8 tons of supplies and equipment, slid from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:14. EST (GMT-5; 12:14 am local time), climbing directly into the orbital field of the space station.
Two minutes after taking off, the four liquid-fueled rope-on reinforcers that make up the first stage of the rocket were dumped as planned and the flight continued under the strength of the second stage of the Soyuz FG center. The third stage then took over, increasing the supply ship MS-10 / 71P Progress to the planned initial orbit around eight minutes and 45 seconds after launch.
The cancellation of October 11 was blamed on damage to the system used to dispose of one of the four first-level boosters. Locking crashed into the rocket core stage, triggering a computer-controlled emergency abortion for the Soyuz MS-10 / 56S commander Alexey Ovchinin and.
The two men landed safely about 250 miles from the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site, but the Russian Soyuz rockets were paralyzed while the engineers completed what was wrong.
The problem is quickly traced to a mechanism that is bent, or defective, in a separation system. No details were provided, but engineers examined the rocket downstream to ensure the separation system was in good condition and installed properly. They then pressed forward with three successful non-station payload launches.
Progress cargo ships launched Friday perched above the same model used for the launch of the space station crew. The flight was seen as the last demonstration to prove that the Soyuz FG booster was once again ready to bring cosmonauts and astronauts safely to low-Earth orbit.
Given the rocket's seemingly flawless performance, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, is expected to continue with plans to launch the Soyuz MS-11 / 57S spacecraft on December 3, carrying commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian flight engineer David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain on a four-orbit flight to the space station.
In a recent interview with CBS News, McClain said he had full confidence in Russian drivers who would push him into orbit.
"The Soyuz rocket has a remarkable track record," he said in a satellite interview from Moscow. "The launch has not been aborted since 1983, and it is a pad where all types of rockets explode on fire. And the crew managed to land and go flying again.
"Going into space is not easy. The crew in October were lucky. But so does every crew who flies in space for the last 50 years, 60 years. I am very familiar with rockets and with the redundancy of their systems and with their security systems. And I will be honest with you, I will ride a rocket the day after (cancel) happens. "
McClain and his colleagues will be welcomed above the station by the Expedition commander 57 Alexander Gerst, commander of Soyuz MS-09 / 55S Sergey Prokopyev and NASA doctor-astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor. They were launched to the station on June 6 and had their own laboratory since the departure of three other crew members on October 4.
The progress of launching Friday is the first of two space station back-to-back backup missions.
On Saturday, Northrop Grumman plans to launch the Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, carrying a Cygnus cargo ship containing 7,385 pounds of equipment and supplies. The appointment of the 0A pad is targeted at 4:01 a.m.
Progress MS-10 / 71P vehicles are scheduled to arrive at the station on Sunday around 2:30 a.m., independently attached to the rear port of the Russian Zvezda module. This progress is loaded with 1,653 pounds of propellant to regulate the orbit of the space station, 165 pounds of pure oxygen and air, 970 pounds of water and 2,866 pounds of parts and equipment.
If all goes well, the Cygnus supply ship will arrive Monday at around 5:20, go up to 30 feet and then stand while the Auñón-Chancellor, operates the lab robotic arm, locks onto the grapple equipment.
From there, flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston will pull Cygnus to uniform in the central Unity port module facing Earth. Among the supplies for the crew are fresh fruit and ice cream, snacks that will match the Thanksgiving rates already on board.
The third supply mission, this one uses the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Naga cargo ship, scheduled to be launched on December 4, a day after Kononenko and his crew arrived at the station.
Gerst, Prokopyev and Auñón-Chancellor are scheduled to return to Earth on December 20, ending the mission of 196 days. The expedition of 58 commander Kononenko, Saint-Jacques and McClain will have a station for themselves until April when another Soyuz brings a set of crew members to the lab.