Progress launched to station as crew exchange is delayed
Posted: March 22, 2002

  Progress launch
Russia's Progress M1-8 resupply ship blasts off atop a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrom. Image: RSC Energia.
A resupply ship blasted off aboard a Russian Soyuz from Central Asia Thursday bound for the International Space Station with its load of equipment, fuel, food and other essential items for the three-man crew living aboard the outpost. Meanwhile, NASA officials have decided to delay by three weeks the May shuttle mission to launch a new crew and bring the current residents home.

This seventh Progress cargo craft for the station launched at 2013 GMT (3:13 p.m. EST) from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and arrived in Earth orbit about 10 minutes later. All the antennas and appendages were deployed as expected, officials said.

The Progress M1-8 spacecraft will fly a three-day course to catch the station. Docking to the rear port of the Zvezda service module is expected at about 2055 GMT (3:55 p.m. EST) on Sunday.

The most recent Progress vessel departed the station on Tuesday after spending 3 1/2 months docked to the complex, freeing up Zvezda's aft port. The ship deployed a small Russian-Australian science satellite a few hours later before being commanded to brake from orbit to reenter the atmosphere.

Called "Kolibry-2000", the 20.5 kg micro-satellite has solar arrays that can generate up to 60 W of electric power. The radio equipment of the satellite operates at 145/435 MHz frequencies.

Russian space officials say the craft carries a particle and electromagnetic field analyzer and magnetometer to observe the space over Europe and Australia. The processes in Earth's radiation belts and magnetosphere during solar flares will also be studied.

  Expedition 4 crew
Cosmonaut Yuri I. Onufrienko, Expedition Four mission commander, flanked by astronauts Daniel W. Bursch (left) and Carl E. Walz, both flight engineers, pose for an informal crew photo in the Zvezda Service Module. Image: NASA/JSC.
The station crew -- commander Yuri Onufrienko and flight engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch -- have been aboard Alpha since early December. Their replacements -- the Expedition Five astronauts -- were slated to launch aboard shuttle Endeavour on May 6. But NASA officials today delayed Endeavour's launch to add to the mission a replacement Wrist Joint for the station's Canadarm2.

The slip, expected to be about three weeks to May 31, will give the time needed to train the shuttle crew for the spacewalking job of swapping out the arm section, integrating the equipment into the ship's cargo bay for launch and waiting until after a blackout period in May that prohibits the shuttle from being docked to the station due to thermal constraints caused by high solar angles.

Endeavour's flight already had two spacewalks planned for Franklin Chang-Diaz and French astronaut Philippe Perrin to install the Canadian Mobile Base System for the station's arm. A third spacewalk will be added to the mission to accommodate the arm repair, extending the flight from 11 to 12 days.

The joint replacement has been ordered due to problems recently experienced during tests of the arm. A software patch is being developed in order to move forward with the April shuttle mission to deliver the S0 truss to the station. The arm will be used to lift the truss out of Atlantis' payload bay and mount it to the Destiny laboratory module. However, if the software workaround fails to operate as engineers believe, Atlantis' planned April 4 launch would have to be delayed.