Planned launch of Progress-MS unmanned spacecraft with supplies for ISS with Soyuz-2.1a rocket from launch sit LC-31 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Progress spaceship has long history in ISS program. Designed back in the seventies as a supply spaceship for Salyut and Mir space stations. After Mir reentry, Progress became cargo spacecraft of choice for ISS resupplying missions. Critical time started after Columbia breakup in February 2003. For two years due the fleet of American shuttles been grounded, Progress was only way to keep ISS operational. Probably it was one of the factors which cause decision about diversifying means of supplying ISS with commercial contractors. Successful Dragon spacecraft flight on 25th May 2012, actually first commercial spacecraft which docked to ISS, became a milestone for commercial space exploration. But still, as a proven and reliable construction, Progress has potential to develop. Latest version signed as MS is modificated to meet new requirements and show possibilities of Russian space industry. For example adding external compartment provides possibility of deploying up to four satellites. Docking with ISS became now more safe thanks to view from installed direct TV camera, upgraded radio data exchange with station and upgraded docking system Kurs-A to Kurs-NA. In case lack of contact with ground radio stations Progress has possibility to use Luch satellites for telemetry and control. Also on board radio was changed for Unified Command Telemetry System.
In this mission modified Progress will be combined with usage of heavy modified two stage Soyuz-2 rocket. With stronger liquid fueled engine NK-33 (1,680 kilonewtons of thrust) rocket offers 2850 kg of payload. Second stage is powered by RD-0124 engine (with 294,3 kilonewtons thrust). Due the limited quantity of NK-33 engines it is planned to use RD-193 engine in future. Height of the rocket is 44 m with diameter at 3 m.