An International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission has successfully launched from Russia’s Baikonur Space Center in southern Kazakhstan. The Progress MS-08 cargo spacecraft is carrying more than three tons of supplies and is expected to rendezvous with the station at 20:43 GMT (15:43 EST) on February 15.
The Progress MS-08 was launched aboard a three-stage Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket. It launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 06:58 GMT (1:58 EST) on February 13. Eight minutes and forty-eight seconds later, the spacecraft was deployed successfully into a low-Earth orbit.
“According to telemetry data, the spacecraft insertion into low-Earth orbit and separation from the third stage of the launch vehicle occurred on schedule, deployment of all antennas and solar array panels was detected immediately after the separation,” revealed a news release on the Roscosmos website. “Systems and assemblies of the spacecraft operate normally.”
The launch of Progress MS-08 had initially been scheduled for Sunday. However, the attempt was halted in the last minute of the countdown with Russian officials not disclosing a reason for scrubbing the launch. As a resulting of having to push the launch to Tuesday, the Soyuz and the Progress MS series again missed out on a record-setting fast rendezvous with the ISS.
An ISS fast rendezvous involves the station passing over the Baikonur Cosmodrome moments before the liftoff of the Soyuz rocket. When executed properly, the manoeuvre reduces the time it takes the Progress MS spacecraft to reach the station from days to hours. Unfortunately, the alignment that makes this possible is only achievable a few days a month.
Progress MS-07 was supposed to be the first to attempt an ISS fast rendezvous back in October of 2017. The launch was, much like today’s scrubbed at the last minute with MS-07 missing the window for the record-setting rendezvous.
Image Credit: ROSCOSMOS/Space Center Yuzhny