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MOSCOW, January 24 (Itar-Tass) – Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-13M has rounded up its orbital mission at the International Space Station.
According to the information released by the Space Flights Ground Control Mission, the cargo craft undocked from the ISS at 02:10 Moscow Standard Time /22:10 GMT Monday/ and started an autonomous flight that will last slightly more than a day.
In the first phase of its return flight, the Progress will help the Ground Control Mission near Moscow to launch into orbit a Chibis-M /Lapwing/ micro-satellite, which is currently installed on the cargo craft’s surface.
Later on, the Progress is due to descend into the thick layers of the atmosphere and to be sunken in a remote area of the Pacific, located away from commercial seafaring routes.
To bring the Progress into a position most favorable for discharging the Chibis-M, the Ground Control Mission specialists will first raise the cargo craft into an orbit 500 km above the surface of the Earth.
The micro-satellite will be released at 03:19 Moscow Standard Time January 25. Its objective is to help implement a new geophysical experiment envisioning a comprehensive study of physical processes occurring during the atmospheric lightening discharges in a very broad spectrum of energies from radio to gamma radiation.
The satellite weighs 34.4 kilograms and its research equipment weighs a mere 12 kg.
The next cargo ship due to dock to the Pirs compartment of the ISS is the Progress M-14M that is due to bring into orbit a payload of 2.5 tons.
Docked at the Rassvet and Poisk modules are two space lifeboats – the Russian manned spaceships Soyuz TMA-03M and Soyuz TMA-22.
The docking compartment at the Zvezda service module is free for the time being. In February, it will host a third European cargo ship in the ATV family – the Edoardo Amaldi.