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BAIKONUR, February 06, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s transport spaceship Progress M-22M, which was launched by a Soyuz-U carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on February 5, has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) in the automated mode, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) told ITAR-TASS.
“The docking was performed as scheduled,” the spokesman said.
Progress M-22M used a shortened six-hour docking scheme, when a spaceship performs four orbit flights. This flight scheme was first tried out in August 2012 by Progress M-16M. Prior to that, a two-day scheme was used.
The transport ship separated from the carrier rocket at 20:32 Moscow time. Progress M-22M is provided with the Kurs approaching and docking system. The new Kurs-NA docking system was tested in July 2012, when Progress M-21M was docking the ISS. The system however failed and the crew had to dock in a manual mode. First flight tests of the Kurs-NA docking system were performed on July 24, 2012, when Progress M-15M was undocked from the ISS. The attempt ended in a failure: after the undocking from the ISS, the spacecraft was moved away from the station. After that, the operation began to bring the Progress closer to the station. When it was at a distance of 15 kilometres from the orbital complex, its system signaled a warning about a possible trouble, and the Kurs system brought the spacecraft at a safe distance of 165 kilometres away from the ISS. The failure of the first attempt was caused by malfunction of the sensor equipment. The outboard antenna of Kurs-NA is shorter, and it must be folded back before the spacecraft touches the station, as it is done in Kurs systems in Progresses and Soyuzes. Besides, the NA unit is lighter than the previous one. The Kurs-NA docking system is replacing Kurs-A which required five rendezvous antennas, the Kurs-NA will require only one and it will also use less power.
Progress M-22M has brought almost 2.4 tonnes of supplies to the ISS crew, including fuel, research equipment, oxygen, water, clothes, and food, as well as parcels from families, fresh fruits and vegetables, candies and other sweets.
Working aboard the ISS are Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Sergei Ryazansky and Mikhail Tyurin, Michael Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio of NASA, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.