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Progress MS-13 to re-supply ISS

Completing Russian missions to the International Space Station, ISS, in 2019 and for the 2010s, the Progress MS-13 cargo ship lifted off on December 6, 2019. The spacecraft successfully docked at the station on December 9.

Previous mission: Progress MS-12

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Progress MS-13 mission at a glance:

Spacecraft designation(s) Progress MS-13, No. 443, 74P
Launch vehicle Soyuz-2-1a N15000-034
Launch site Baikonur, Site 31, Pad 6
Mission Cargo delivery to the ISS
Launch date and time 2019 December 6, 12:34:11 Moscow Time (4:34 a.m. EST, 09:34 UTC) - planned
Docking date and time 2019 December 9, 10:35:11 UTC - actual; (5:38 a.m. EST, 10:38 UTC) - planned
Docking destination ISS, Russian Segment, SO1 Pirs Docking Compartment
Undocking and reentry 2020 July 8-9
Mission duration 220 days
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Progress MS-13 mission

According to Roskosmos, Progress MS-13 was to deliver close to 2,480 kilograms of supplies to the ISS, including around 420 kilograms of water in the containers of the Rodnik system, around 50 kilograms of pressurized oxygen in tanks, around 650 kilograms of propellant for refueling and around 1,350 kilograms of dry cargo, such as food rations, hardware for life-support and flight control systems, hygiene and medical supplies. In addition, the crew was also scheduled to receive a new tread for the BD-2 treadmill, Roskosmos said.

Breakdown of dry cargo in the pressurized compartment of the Progress MS-13, according to the Russian mission control:

Hardware for onboard systems
502 kilograms
Medical supplies
29 kilograms
Personal protective gear
66 kilogram
Sanitary and hygiene items
271 kilograms
Repairs and servicing equipment
9 kilograms
Means of crew support
25 kilograms
271 kilograms
82 kilograms
Structural components and other hardware
22 kilograms
NASA cargo
87 kilograms

During the live broadcast of the final countdown for the Progress MS-13 mission, Mikhail Belyaev, the Deputy Chief at the RKK Energia's Scientific and Technical Center said that the cargo ship carried two experiments to the station. The SOVA hardware which stands for Sistema Orientatsii Videospektrometricheskoi Apparatury can be translated as Attitude Control System for Video and Spectrometric Equipment. It will be mounted on the interior of the station's window and allow automated guidance of photo, video and other imaging equipment at their targets without direct participation of the crew.

The second experiment dubbed Terminator would be used for atmopsheric research.

According to Belyaev, Progress MS-13 also carried a new control computer for the IKARUS experiment, which studies bird migration.

Scheduling Progress MS-13 mission


Progress MS-13 (left) is being prepared for transfer to the vehicle assembly building on December 1, 2019. Another Progress cargo ship (center) and a Soyuz crew vehicle (right) were at Site 254 at the time. Sections of payload fairing (center) for the MLM Nauka module were also inside the processing building.

When the Progress MS-13 mission first appeared in the ISS flight manifests around 2014, the launch of the mission was planned for Oct. 16, 2018, however, it drifted back by more than a year, as Roskosmos reduced the number of flights to the outpost and there was also likely a shift in the overall schedule.

At the time when the Soyuz-2-1a rocket for the mission was being unloaded in Baikonur at the end of August 2019, the launch was planned for December 20 of that year, however, by the middle of September 2019, the flight was advanced to December 6.

By the beginning of October, NASA requested Roskosmos to change the launch date from December 6 to avoid a schedule conflict with the Dragon cargo spacecraft at the ISS. At the time, the Dragon was scheduled for launch on December 4, 2019, at 12:48 EST, resulting in the arrival at the station two days later. Roskosmos then re-set the launch for December 1, at 14:29 Moscow Time (6:29 a.m. EST). Under that scenario, the spacecraft would dock at ISS on December 3, 2019, at 16:41 Moscow Time (8:41 a.m. EST).

Launch campaign


The assembly of the first and second stages of the launch vehicle for the flight was completed in Baikonur on September 5. On October 2, Roskosmos announced that Progress MS-13 had come out with flying colors from vacuum testing in Baikonur.

On November 11, 2019, Roskosmos said that specialists from RKK Energia and the Yuzhny branch of the TsENKI center had completed testing of the ship's solar panels, including exposure of the panels to an array of electric lights. Then, on November 19, the technical management gave the green light to the loading of propellant components and pressurized gases aboard the ship's integrated propulsion system and the refueling tanks, Roskosmos said. According to the State Corporation, before the fueling operations, specialists conducted balancing and weighing of the vehicle. The fueling of Progress MS-13 was scheduled for November 20 and November 21, 2019, Roskosmos said.

On November 22, Roskosmos announced that after the completion of the fueling operations, Progress MS-13 had been returned to the processing building and installed inside its dynamic stand for final operations and loading of fresh food items and documentation into the pressurized cargo compartment.

However, on the morning of November 25, Roskosmos announced that issues had been found during the preparations of Progress MS-13 for launch. "Problems are now resolved and the checks of onboard systems are ongoing," the State Corporation said. "There will be a separate announcement on the launch date..." the announcement said, hinting that the planned December 1 launch window was no longer valid. Before the end of the workday in Moscow on November 25, Roskosmos posted an update announcing that the launch of Progress MS-13 had been rescheduled for December 6, 2019, at 12:34 Moscow Time, due to an issue with an onboard cable found by specialists from RKK Energia. The problem had been resolved with the replacement of the cable, the company said. According to a posting on the online forum of the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine on the same day, specialists had spent the previous two days trying to find the source of electric charge on the body of the spacecraft and then discovered a damaged cable in the vehicle's instrument compartment.

As a result of the launch delay, the docking of Progress MS-13 with the station had to be re-scheduled to December 9, 2019, at 13:38 Moscow Time, after an extended three-day autonomous flight, in order to allow a backup rendezvous opportunity for the American cargo ship, Roskosmos announced on November 27, 2019. At the time, NASA still planned the launch of the Dragon SpX-19 spacecraft on December 4, 2019, with the primary docking date on December 7 and a possible second opportunity 24 hours later. According to Roskosmos, Progress MS-13 would follow a standard three-day rendezvous profile with the station.

In the meantime, in Baikonur, Progress MS-13 was integrated with its launch vehicle adapter, Roskosmos announced on November 27. The adapter ring was designed to serve as an interface between the cargo ship and the Soyuz-2-1a rocket.

On November 29, Roskosmos specialists conducted a final visual inspection of the spacecraft, then lowered it in horizontal position and rolled in the payload fairing of the launch vehicle. The team also conducted checks of the spacecraft within the payload section, including the fairing and the launch vehicle adapter.

Progress MS-13 was transferred from the spacecraft processing building at Site 254 to the vehicle assembly building at Site 31 on December 1, 2019. The next day, the final assembly of the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle with the Progress MS-13 spacecraft was completed at the MIK-40 building at Site 31, followed by the rollout to the launch pad on the morning of December 3, 2019.

Progress MS-13 mission scenario


A Soyuz-2-1a rocket carrying the Progress MS-13 cargo ship lifted off from Site 31 in Baikonur, on December 6, 2019, at 12:34:11 Moscow Time (4:34 a.m. EST).

According to the information in the Russian mission control center, the four boosters of the first stage of the launch vehicle were jettisoned at 12:36:09 Moscow Time, followed by the separation of the payload fairing at 12:37:14 Moscow Time. The second stage of the Soyuz-2-1a rocket separated at 12:38:58 Moscow Time.

The separation of the Progress MS-13 spacecraft from the third stage of the launch vehicle took place at 12:42:59 Moscow Time (4:42 a.m. EST). Roskosmos did not disclose the planned parameters of the initial orbit.

According to the Russian mission control, Progress MS-13 entered an initial orbit with the following parameters:

Minimal distance from the Earth's surface (perigee) 192.8 kilometers
Maximum distance from the Earth's surface (apogee) 240.9 kilograms
Orbital period 88.55 minutes
Orbital inclination 51.67 degrees

Progress MS-13 arrives at ISS


After a three-day autonomous flight, Progress MS-13 began automated approach to the station using the Kurs rendezvous system on December 9, 2019.

The autonomous rendezvous process between Progress MS-13 and the station was planned according to the following timeline:

Start of the autonomous rendezvous 11:18:30 Moscow Time
Activation of the rendezvous equipment on the Zvezda Service Module 12:07:01 Moscow Time
Activation of the rendezvous equipment on the cargo ship 12:04:41 Moscow Time
Flyaround and station-keeping period starts 13:18 Moscow Time
Flyaround and station-keeping period ends 13:38 Moscow Time
Final approach and berthing starts 13:38 Moscow Time
Contact 13:38:28 Moscow Time
Docking process begins 13:38 Moscow Time
Docking process ends 13:55 Moscow Time

NASA did confirm that the automated rendezvous started at 08:18:30 UTC. According to NASA, Progress MS-13 began flyaround of the station around one minute early, from a distance of around 400 meters. It completed the alignment with the destination docking port on the station at a distance of 110 meters, allowing the mission control in Korolev to almost immediately proceed with the final approach.

The cargo ship successfully docked at the Pirs Docking Compartment, SO1, a part of the Russian Segment of the International Space Station on December 9, 2019, at 13:35:11 Moscow Time (5:35 a.m. EST) or around three minutes ahead of schedule.

At the time of the first contact, the two vehicles were flying over the Yellow Sea, east of Shanghai, according to NASA.

According to NASA, the hooks of the Progress' docking port were closed at 10:40:07 UTC.

The hatches between the cargo ship and the station were scheduled to be opened around three hours later, after a series of leak checks in the docking mechanism. NASA confirmed that the opening of the hatches had taken place on the Docking Compartment's side at 13:29 UTC and on the Progress' side at 13:37 UTC.

The cargo ship is scheduled to remain at the ISS until the middle of July 2020.

Progress MS-13 completes its mission


Russian cosmonaut Ivan Vagner posted a series of photos of the Progress MS-13 cargo ship taken during its departure from the station on July 8, 2020.

After the nearly six-and-half-month flight, the Progress MS-13 cargo ship departed the International Space Station, ISS, for a planned destructive reentry in the Earth's atmosphere during the night from July 8 to July 9, 2000, Moscow Time. According to Roskosmos, the vehicle undocked from the station on July 8, 2020, at 21:22 Moscow Time (2:22 p.m. EDT). Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, members of the 63rd long-duration expedition aboard the ISS, prepared the vehicle for the undocking.

Once in the autonomous flight, the Russian mission control commanded Progress MS-13 to fire its propulsion system against the direction of the flight on July 9, 2020, at 00:31:42 Moscow Time (5:31 p.m. EDT on July 8). The maneuver lasted four minutes, resulting in the reentry of the spacecraft over a remote region of the Pacific Ocean at 01:05 Moscow Time on July 9 (6:05 p.m. EDT on July 8). Eight minutes later, any surviving debris of the spacecraft were projected to hit the surface of the ocean, around 1,800 kilometers east of New Zealand. In early July, the Russian authorities issued a warning to sea traffic to avoid two debris impact zones in the region which would be used during the primary and backup reentry attempts.

The departure of Progress MS-13 freed the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port on the SO1 Pirs Docking Compartment of the Russian ISS Segment for the arrival of the fresh Progress MS-15 cargo ship scheduled for launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 23, 2020.


Next mission: Progress MS-14


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This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak; Last update: July 9, 2020

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: December 5, 2019

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Specialists load the last cargo items into the pressurized compartment of the Progress MS-13 cargo ship on November 22, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


Progress MS-13 is being integrated with the launch vehicle adapter on November 27, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


Progress MS-13 is being lowered in horizontal position during integration with payload fairing on November 29, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


Progress MS-13 is being lowered in horizontal position during integration with payload fairing on November 29, 2019. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


External camera aboard Progress MS-13 transmitted live images of the ascent to orbit including the separation of the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle. Credit: Roskosmos