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MOSCOW, September 1 (Itar-Tass) —— Specialists of the Mission Control Centre began an operation on Thursday to sink the Progress cargo craft, which was undocked from the ISS early last week.
The Progress M-11M engines were started at 13:34 Moscow time on Thursday at the command of the on-board computer. The craft has been on an independent flight for nine days. The engines worked for braking, and the spacecraft began to descend from the orbit. The fragments of the craft will reach the surface of the Pacific Ocean at about 14:22 Moscow time, a MCC source said.
The progress was undocked from the ISS on August 23 and was put in a lower orbit. Three sessions of a geophysical experiment Radar-Progress were conducted during the nine days with the aim to study, with ground observation devices, reflecting characteristics of plasma heterogeneities generated in the ionosphere when spacecraft engines worked. The experiment results were recorded with the special ground radar belonging to the institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Irkutsk Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Before the undocking, Russians Andrei Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyayev and Sergei Volkov, working aboard the ISS, manually loaded more than a tonne of waste and used equipment into the Progress. It is hard to determine the exact weight of the waste, as there are large, but light cargoes and there are small, but heavy containers, the MCC source explained. The Progress is loaded fully. First of all, large cargoes are carried out, but nevertheless, something is left usually.
Progress M-11M debris that will not burn up in the atmosphere will sink at the so-called cemetery of spacecraft in the special area of the Pacific, far from shipping routes.