MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. The docking of the second Russian spacecraft of the new series Progress MS with the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for Saturday in an automatic mode, the Mission Control Center told TASS.
"The docking of the spacecraft with the station is set for 21:01 Moscow Time," the Mission Control Center said.
The Roscosmos State Corporation told TASS March 31 that Russia’s cargo space vehicle Progress MS-02 has separated from the third stage of the space rocket Soyuz-2.1a and set course towards the International Space Station. "The vehicle’s separation from the rocket was normal," a Roscosmos official said.
It was a second launch of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with space vehicle of the Progress family since the April 2015 incident, when the unmanned cargo spacecraft was damaged and failed to enter the designated orbit. The first launch of a Progress vehicle with a Soyuz-2.1a rocket was held last December.
While the cargo spacecraft is on its way toward the ISS, new systems will be tested similar to the ones which will be used in the first manned flight of a new series spacecraft Soyuz-MS due in June 2016.
It is expected that Progress MS-02 will be docked to the ISS’s Zvezda module.
The docking will be computer controlled. Russian cosmonauts Yury Malenchenko and Alexey Ovchinin will oversee the process. If need be, they will complete the process manually. At the end of last year on December 15 Malenchenko had to take over the docking process after a technical glitch and control the approaching cargo spacecraft Soyuz TMA-19M in the manual mode.
The cargo vehicle is carrying to the ISS more than 2.5 metric tons of cargoes, including fuel, air, food, life support equipment and parcels for the crew. As the chief of a section at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medical and Biological Problems, Alexander Agureyev, told TASS earlier, the Progress vehicle was carrying a standard set of fresh fruit and vegetables: apples, grapefruit, oranges, onions and garlic.
"The crew haven’t ordered anything apart from their usual menu," he said.
Among other items on board the cargo spacecraft are the world’s first-ever microsatellite. Its hull was printed on a 3D-printer. The satellite, designed and made at the Tomsk Polytechnic University - Tomsk-TPU-120, will be put in space from the ISS when the crew make a spacewalk.
Most of the satellite’s parts and components were printed with the use of plastics, while the electric battery unit is the world’s first one to have been made of zirconium with the use of 3D printing technology.
The previous new generation cargo vehicle - Progress MS-01 was launched on December 21, 2015. The next one, Progress MS-03 will leave for the ISS on July 4.