Russian cargoship fluffs Space Station docking test
Performance anxiety for new automated system
Russian cargoship Progress M-15M has failed to couple with the International Space Station in a test of its new automated docking system.
Russian Progress not making much progress today
Progress had already dropped off its supplies to the ISS, but it disengaged and backed up on Sunday to sit for 24 hours before attempting to berth with the station again using its Kurs-NA rendezvous system.
But the docking was automatically aborted by the craft when there was a failure while activating the Kurs-NA system, NASA said in a statement.
The cargoship was 161km from the station when the glitch occurred and has now backed up to 484km, Russian space agency Roscosmos and Russian Mission Control said in a joint statement.
Russian space experts will now have to figure out what cocked up before another attempt to test the system can be started. Whether or not Russian astroboffins solve the riddle in short order, they must hang tight until after Japanese cargo craft HTV-3 docks with the station on Friday.
The M-15M is orbiting 408km over the Earth, and has enough fuel to keep going and rendezvous with the ISS on Saturday or Sunday, the agencies said.
The new system is an upgraded version of the existing Kurs automated docking system, which the Russian ships have been using for years. ®
Re: Metric? Imperial?
Indeed. This would be much easier if we were using proper measurements with a basis in the real world, so here are some better figures.
ISS is currently orbiting at a height approximately equal to 121,689 African elephants standing on top of each other.
The Russian cargo ship was at a distance of roughly 14,636 London bus lengths from ISS when it had a problem, and it has since backed off to 44,000 London bus lengths.
They're both orbiting at around 45 megafurlongs per fortnight (it's hard to visualise this sort of speed, but if you imagine a Reg journalist heading towards a pint of beer on the other side of the room you probably won't be too far off).
I think I see the problem
It's backed up to 484km from the station. But the station is orbiting at just 408km from the Earth.
Therefore the cargo ship is now orbiting 76km below the surface of the Earth.
So much traffic
Dragon capsule, Progress that wants to come back for more, Japanese unit,...
Sounds like it's getting busy up there.
And Dragon was not even capable of attempting an automated docking yet. It had to be grabbed by the Canadarm. Russia had automated docking years and years ago. I don't think NASA ever had automated docking capabilities.
They may be doing it with old parts and old technology, but the Russians do have some spacefaring tricks of their own.
Beer because it's National Tequila Day in the USA, and that's the closest available icon. Salud!