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Russian Progress space freighter undocks from ISS

July 22, 2014, 12:29 UTC+3

The space craft will be used for conducting experiments and then deorbited and drowned in an unnavigable area of the Paceific ocean

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MOSCOW, July 22, 13:09 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s cargo spacecraft Progress M-32M on Tuesday undocked from the International Space Station (ISS). In the period from July 26 to 31 it will be used in the Radar-Progress experiment, after which it will be sunk in non-navigable waters of the Pacific, the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) told Itar-Tass.

“The spacecraft’s undocking from the station passed normally, at 01:44 a.m., Moscow time,” Roscosmos said.

The Radar-Progress experiment on cargo spaceships, flying autonomously, has been staged more than once. Radar-Progress is a geophysical experiment that assesses the density, size and reflectivity of the ionosphere environment around the spacecraft - caused by engine burns the vehicle makes. The experiment is being conducted on several Progress missions from 2010 through 2014.

The spacecraft’s sinking is scheduled for August 1. “The Progress engines are planned to be ignited for the braking manoeuvre at 01:48 a.m., Moscow time. The spaceship’s unburned debris will sink in a non-navigable are of the Pacific at about 02:40 a.m., Moscow time,” the agency said.

Roscosmos said that the Progress M-23M spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome on April 9 and on April 10 successfully docked in an automatic mode to the Pirs docking module. The launch of the next cargo spacecraft - Progress M-24M - to the ISS is scheduled from the Baikonur cosmodrome for July 24 at 01:44 a.m., Moscow time. It will be placed into orbit by the Soyuz-U carrier rocket.

Cargo spacecraft are often used as orbiting laboratories. The Progress ship has been used as a platform for launching Russian and German micro satellites, as well as for testing the ejection chair for rescuing the crew of the Buran space shuttle. The experiment Izgib that is aimed at studying the effect of performance of flight and science activities on the function of the ISS on-orbit systems has also been conducted on the cargo spacecraft. Some of the spaceships were equipped with a capsule that was used for the return of up to 60 kg of cargoes from orbit to Earth, and the Progress M-13M spacecraft ahead of sinking was for the first time used for testing a special launch container that successfully “shot off” the Chibis-M research satellite. In 2003, the Progress M1-10 spacecraft, after undocking from the ISS, during a month was monitoring with special cameras natural calamity areas and environmental disaster zones.

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