Today Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexei Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka performed flight tests of manual control system of Progress cargo spacecraft. It was last activity of Progress MS-01 before planned for 3rd July 2016 undocking and reentry.
For today’s trial served Progress MA-01, which remain docked to Pirs module. Spacecraft was launched on December 21, 2015 and docked to International Space Station on December 23, 2015. Since then, it remained docked to Pirs module nadir berthing port. Test was planned to last 30 minutes and it covered following phases: automatic undocking maneuver, reaching distance of 200 meters from ISS, switching to manual mode, gliding to ISS and docking to same docking port. Just before test flight, Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexei Ovchinin took their places in Zvezda module in the front of workstation which served as control panel after switching Progress to manual control mode. Whole trial was performed under supervision of Mission Control Center in Korolev in Moscow.
At 05:36 GMT Progress undocked from Pirs and performed first autonomous phase of experiment. Spacecraft reached distance of 183 meters from ISS. Next Alexei Ovchinin took control over switched to manual mode spacecraft. He started to perform approach maneuver slowly, gliding Progress towards the nadir docking port of Pirs. Progress was controlled by two joysticks installed on console in Zvezda module. Camera installed on Progress was operating in real time and video signal was transmitted to display installed on console. At 06:01 GMT Progress reached distance of 25 m from docking port. Three minutes later at 06:04:55 GMT Progress touched docking port when ISS flight on altitude of 408 km over South Pacific. Experiment was finished; in this way upgraded manual docking system of Progress-MS passed all flight tests.
According to TASS news agency during undocking there was no problems and Progress was operating correctly. Due the approach also there was no anomaly spotted, but just after touching docking port Progress started to wobble. Lack of stabilization was quite easy to be spotted during live broadcast and in fact movement was considerable. Luckily according to official announcements it did not affected on course of ISS. TASS claims that already group of experts begun work to solve and explain anomaly.