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RELOCATION OF PROGRESS MS-17 CARGO SHIP ON ISS, Oct 20-22, 2021, Earth orbit

Russia will relocate its Progress MS-17 cargo spacecraft from one docking port to another at the International Space Station (ISS) over the period October 20-22, 2021 Eastern Daylight Time.

NASA calls it Progress 78 because it is the 78th Progress mission to the ISS, but there were dozens of Progress flights to Soviet/Russian space stations before that.

Such relocations are not unusual, but this one is unique because it will be the first spacecraft to dock with Russia’s new Nauka module, which arrived in July, and conduct leak checks of Nauka’s propellant lines to ensure they are ready when Nauka needs to be refueled. Nauka’s engines, like those on Russia’s Zvezda module, can be used to reorient the station.  Engines on Progress cargo vehicles also are used for that purpose and to periodically boost the ISS’s orbit to compensate for natural decay.

Progress MS-17 will undock from its current port on the Poisk module at 7:42 pm EDT on October 20 and move 120 miles away where it will remain for just over 24 hours to allow for stationkeeping.

Then it will dock at Nauka at 12:23 am ET October 22.

NASA will not provide live TV coverage of undocking, but NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will offer live coverage of the rendezvous and redocking beginning at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.

Nauka’s engines misfired after it docked on July 29 and seriously disrupted the station’s orientation. The Zvezda and Progress engines were needed to restore its correct position. Another incident occurred on October 15 when the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft’s engines were being tested prior to returning three crew members to Earth. They did not shut off when expected and again disrupted the station’s orientation. While the crew’s safety was not in jeopardy, these unexpected movements put stresses on systems on the exterior of ISS, like the solar arrays, and uses up fuel to get the ISS back into its proper orientation.

The Progress cargo spacecraft deliver food, equipment, scientific experiments and other supplies including fuel to the ISS.


October 21 @ 11:30 pm
October 23 @ 5:00 am