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Progress resuppy spacecraft to undock from ISS Mon to function as a sci lab for a while

April 07, 2014, 7:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, April 07 /ITAR-TASS/. The resupply spacecraft Progress M-21M will undock from the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday and set out on a "free flight", an official at the Flight Control Center (FCC) outside Moscow has told Itar-Tass.

"The spacecraft's undocking is scheduled for 17:58, Moscow time. In a period from April 13 to 18 a Radar-Progress experiment will be performed by means of the spacecraft. Later on, the Progress spacecraft will be deorbited and dumped in a non-navigable area of the Pacific Ocean,"the FCC official relatrd.

By means of the Radar-Progress experiment, specialists will detrrmine spatial and temporal drpendence of density, temperature, ion composition of local ionospheric heterogeneities tha arise resultant of the operation of the Progress spacecraft engines.

Resupply spacecraft were repeatedly in use earlier as orbital laboratories. Russian and German microsatellites were launched from Progress spacecraft and possibilities were studied for the use of a bailout seat to rescue the crew of the reusable spaceship Buran. Some spacecraftw were provided with a capsule to bring payloads weighing up to 60 kg from orbit back to the Earth. Prior to splashing down in the ocean, the Progress M-13M was for the first time used for testing a specially devised launchi container which was successfully jettisoned by the research microsatellite Chibis-M.

In 2003, the Progress M1-10 after undocking from the ISS conducted observation of areas hit by natural calamities and environmental disasters for a month by means of special cameras. In 2005 a resupply spacecraft was used for ten days to test some modes of passive orientation. Sinc 2007, Progress spacecraft have been performing Plasma-Progress and Radar-Progress experiments.

The Progress M-21M had been launched from Baikonur spacepory on November 26, 2013. The spacecraft docked successfully with the ISS on November 30.

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