MOSCOW, February 03, 7:12 /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian resupply spacecraft Progress M-20M is to undock from the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday and set out on a free flight. On February 11, the spacecraft will be de-orbited and submerged in a non-navigable area of the Pacific Ocean, an official of the Flight Control Center (FCC) outside Moscow told Itar-Tass.
"A command will be issued to the Progress M-20M spacecraft at 20:20, Moscow time, on Monday to undock from the ISS. For eight days, the spacecraft will be on an autonomous flight, during which a space experiment, the Izgib (bending), will be carried out," the FCC official said.
The experiment Izgib is aimed at researching into the influence of the functioning modes of the onboard systems on the ISS flight conditions. Along with that, its aim is also to study the influence of the instrumentation of the thermal conditions monitoring system on the microgravitational situation on board the Progress spacecraft and develop techniques to abate the influence. By means of the Izgib, researchers also study currents in inhomogeneous and homogeneous density liquid and gaseous environments in microgravitation conditions with the use of scientific instrumentation Dakon-M (the main developers of which are Perm-based scientists) and consumable matrrials with an aggregate weight of 11.56 kg.
The FCC official recalled that the Progress M-20M has been part of the ISS since July 28, 2013.
Resupply spacecraft were repeatedly used earlier as orbital labratories. Russian and German microsatellites were launched from board the Progress and the possibility was studied of the ejection chair for the rescue of a crew of resuable spaceship Buran.
The experiment Radar-Progress, by means of which it is possible to determine spatiotemporal dependence of density, temperature, and ion composition of local ionosphere inhomogeneities arising as a result of the operation of cargo spacecraft engines, were also repeatedly conducted on board the Progress.
Some spacecraft were equipped with a capsule, by means of which up to 80 kg of payload were brought back to Earth from orbit while the Progress M-13M prior to submrrgence was used to test a specially developed descent container which was successfully jettisoned by the research microsatellite Chibis-M.
In 2003, the Progress M1-10 after undocking from ISS conducted observation, for a month by means of special cameras, of the areas of natura calamities and environmental disasters. In 2005, some passive orientation modes were tested for ten days on board a resupply spacecraft.