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Progress cargo ship may be docked to ISS in manual mode — source

April 28, 2015, 13:23 UTC+3
There's a reserve docking system in case the Kurs system antennas are the only problem
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Mission control center in Korolyov outside Moscow (archive)

Mission control center in Korolyov outside Moscow (archive)

© ITAR-TASS/Marina Lystseva

MOSCOW, April 28. /TASS/. Russia’s Progress cargo spacecraft can be docked to the International Space Station (ISS) in a manual mode from the ISS if the Kurs docking navigation system antennas are not deployed, a source in the rocket and space industry told TASS on Tuesday.

"If the problem is only with the Kurs system antennas, then we have a reserve docking system - a remote piloting system [used on the Soyuz and Progress spaceships]. It can also be used for docking the Progress ship to the ISS," the source said.

"However, it is so far early to speak of transfer to the reserve docking system. We have to wait until the specialists find out if it’s possible to deploy the Kurs system antennas, and if not - how serious the situation is in general," the source said.

According to him, the antenna failure may be caused by anything: "possibly, something has got there - a mechanical glitch, or the signal fails to pass somewhere through the circuit." He said the Kurs navigation system is used for the approach and docking to the ISS. "Antennas of this system transmit information about the distance to the station, attitude rates. Docking with the station is conducted in an automatic mode based on this information," he said.

Another source in the industry told TASS previously that the Progress cargo spacecraft launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday morning failed to deploy two Kurs system antennas and that there were problems with telemetric data transmission. Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) later admitted the telemetric data problem.

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