Progress MS-22 arrives at ISS
Opening a super-busy year of missions headed to the ISS in 2023 was the Progress MS-22 tanker and cargo spacecraft that lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on February 9 and docked at the station two days later.
Progress MS-22 mission at a glance:
Progress MS-22 mission
According to Roskosmos, the spacecraft was intended to deliver to the ISS around 2,500 kilograms of cargo, 709 kilograms of propellant in the tanks of the refueling system, 420 kilograms of water, 40 kilograms of compressed air and 1,319 kilograms of materials, food and other consumables in the pressurized cargo section for the Expedition 68 crew.
Supplies included materials for the following experiments: Kardiovektor, Neiroimmunitet, Pilot-T. Matershka-R, Biomag-M, Aseptik, Probiovit, Struktura, Fotobioreaktor, Biodegradatsiya, Biopolimer and Separatsiya.
The delivered cargo also included new experimental equipment called Napor-miniRSA and the ASN-KM satellite communications antenna. Both payloads were intended for deployment on the exterior of the station, Roskosmos said.
Mass breakdown of the cargo delivered aboard Progress MS-22, according to the mission control in Korolev:
Soyuz MS-23 (far right) is being prepared for launch to the ISS on Feb. 1 in Baikonur, along with four Progress-MS cargo ships assigned to re-supply the station in 2023.
During early planning of the ISS flight manifest in 2014, the first Progress mission of 2023 was penciled for February 22. In the mid-2021 version of the ISS schedule, the launch of Progress MS-22 was scheduled for Feb. 16, 2023.
After a three-month testing period at its assembly plant in Korolev, near Moscow, Progress MS-22 was shipped by rail to Baikonur on March 1, 2022. On March 5, the ship was unloaded inside the processing building of Site 254 in Baikonur, where it was put in storage mode until the start of the active launch campaign. The Soyuz-2-1a rocket and the payload fairing for the mission were delivered from RKTs Progress in Samara to the vehicle processing building at Site 112 around August 20.
Early preparatory activities with the cargo ship started on Oct. 28, 2022, with initial inspections, activation of some systems and preparation for tests. During the first 10 days of November 2022, specialists from RKK Energia installed and tested digital flight control system of the cargo ship. They also tested the telemetry and measurement systems aboard the spacecraft using ground-based diagnostics equipment.
Vacuum testing of Progress MS-22 in Baikonur was reported starting on Dec. 3, 2022, and completed on December 8.
After a coolant leak had developed aboard Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on Dec. 14, 2022, and the possible need for an earlier launch of Soyuz MS-23 for the evacuation of the crew, planners reportedly considered postponing the planned launch of Progress MS-22 from February 16 to early March. However, along with the eventual decision to advance the launch of Soyuz MS-23 from March 16 to February 19, the launch of Progress MS-22 was moved forward from February 16 to February 9.
In the meantime, the Soyuz-2-1a rocket assigned to the Progress MS-22 mission was rolled out to Pad 6 on Dec. 19, 2022, for integrated tests of the new ground equipment installed at Site 31 earlier in the year. The vehicle was returned to the assembly building on December 22.
The cargo ship was prepared for transportation to the fueling station at Site 31 in Baikonur on Jan. 25, 2022, for loading with propellant and pressurized gases. By that time, three subsequent Progress vehicles had already been delivered to the launch site, RKK Energia said.
On February 1, inside processing building at Site 254, Progress MS-22 was integrated with its launch vehicle adapter, PkhO, designed to interface with the Soyuz-2-1a rocket. The work was concluded with test activation of onboard command and telemetry system and the preparation of the ship for the final visual inspection before its encapsulation under its payload fairing.
The spacecraft was then transported to the vehicle assembly building at Site 31, where its integration with the Soyuz-2-1a rocket completed the assembly of the launch vehicle. On February 4, the State Commission overseeing the campaign gave the green light to the rollout of the vehicle to Pad 6 at Site 31, which took place on the morning of February 6.
According to the Russian mission control, key operations on the launch pad on Feb. 9, 2023, had the following timeline:
Progress MS-22 flight profile
A Soyuz-2-1a rocket, carrying the Progress MS-22 cargo ship is scheduled to lifted off from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur on Feb. 9, 2023, at 09:15:36.381 Moscow Time (1:15 a.m. EST).
Following a vertical liftoff under the combined thrust of the four RD-107 engines on the first stage and the single RD-108 of the second (core) stage, the launch vehicle headed eastward from Baikonur matching its ground track to an orbit inclined 51.67 degrees to the plane of the Equator.
The four first-stage boosters separated nearly two minutes after liftoff, at 09:17:34 Moscow Time, at an altitude of around 43 kilometers, followed by the split and drop of the two halves of the payload fairing slightly more than a minute later, at 09:18:39 Moscow Time, at an altitude of around 90 kilometers, just above the dense atmosphere and around 200 kilometers downrange. In the meantime, the second stage continued firing until 4 minutes and 47 seconds into the flight, bringing the vehicle to around 143 kilometers above the planet and a speed of around four kilometers per second, some 500 kilometers downrange from the launch site.
The third stage ignited moments before the separation of the second stage at 09:20:23 Moscow Time, firing its RD-0110 engine through a lattice structure connecting the two boosters and ensuring a continuous thrust during the separation process. A fraction of a second after the boosters of the second and third stage parted ways, the aft cylindrical section of the third stage split into three segments and dropped off, ensuring the fall of the second stage and the aft section into the same drop zone.
The third stage continued firing and inserted the cargo ship into an initial parking orbit nearly nine minutes after liftoff, separating at 09:24:25 Moscow Time. The launch targeted a 240 by 193-kilometer initial orbit with an inclination 51.67 degrees toward the Equator and a period of 88.54 minutes.
At the time of the launch, the ISS was orbiting the Earth over Lybia in the 412.069 by 433.339-kilometer orbit.
Rendezvous and docking operations
Progress MS-22 is following a two-day, 34-orbit flight profile to rendezvous with the International Space Station.
As usual, the autonomous flight program planned six major orbit-correction maneuvers using main SKD engine and small DPO thrusters during the autonomous rendezvous with the station on Feb. 11, 2023:
The autonomous rendezvous process between Progress MS-22 and the ISS was planned according to the following timeline:
At the time of starting its 34th orbit, Progress MS-22 was projected to be in the 380.078 by 424.099-kilometer orbit.
The docking of the cargo ship at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM, was scheduled on Feb. 11, 2023, at 11:47:30 Moscow Time or 50 hours 31 minutes after the launch of the spacecraft from Baikonur.
According to NASA, the actual docking took place at 3:45 a.m. Eastern Time on February 11. At the time of its arrival, Progress MS-22 was expected to remain at the ISS until the end of August 2023.
Progress MS-22 performs ISS orbit correction
In preparation for the return of the damaged Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft at the end of March 2023, the ISS orbit was adjusted on Feb. 20, 2023, using the propulsion system of the newly arrived Progress MS-22 spacecraft, Roskosmos announced.
The ship's eight DPO thrusters were activated at 07:20 Moscow Time (11:20 p.m. EST on February 19) and fired for 958.32 seconds (927 seconds, according to an unofficial source), spending 291 kilograms of propellant and adding 1.8 meters per second to the station's velocity. The maneuver boosted an average altitude of the station's orbit by 3.2 kilometers to 418.9 kilometers.
According to Roskosmos, a total of 333 orbit corrections have been conducted in the course of the ISS project.
On March 6, 2023, the Progress MS-22 cargo ship docked at the Zvezda Service Module of the ISS was used to move the outpost away from a potential encounter with a piece of orbital debris.
The ship's propulsion system was activated at 15:42:00 Moscow Time (7:42 a.m. EST) and fired for 375.8 seconds adding 0.7 meters per second to the station's orbital velocity, Roskosmos said. The maneuver boosted the ISS' orbit by 1.2 kilometers to an average altitude of 418.6 kilometers, according to the State Corporation.
According to available information from the Russian industry, the Argentinean NuSat-17 satellite was the object requiring the ISS maneuver by eight DPO engines aboard Progress, which expended 119 kilograms of propellant and placed the station in a 414.66 by 439.77-kilometer orbit.
According to Roskosmos, a total of 334 orbit corrections have been performed in the course of the ISS project, including 183 maneuvers using engines on Progress vehicles.
Another space junk avoidance maneuver
On March 14, 2023, at 14:54 Moscow Time, Progress MS-22 fired its engines for 155 seconds delivering 0.3 meters per second in velocity change and boosting the ISS average altitude by 500 meters to 419 kilometers. According to Roskosmos, the maneuver was designed to avoid a piece of space junk.
According to Dr. Marco Langbroek, a prominent satellite observer, a likely object that required the maneuver, was a debris from the Kosmos-1408 satellite destroyed in the Russian anti-satellite test on Nov. 15, 2021.
Industry sources later confirmed that the object passing in the vicinity of the station was cataloged by the US Space Forces as No. 49982 and indeed represented one of the debris of the Kosmos-1408 (Tselina-D) satellite. The collision avoidance manuever, performed with eight DPO thrusters (INSIDER CONTENT) of the Progress MS-22 spacecraft, lasted 156 seconds and expended 49.4 kilograms of propellant.
After the maneuver, the station was in 417.81 by 441.33-kilometer orbit with inclination 51.66 degrees toward the Equator and an orbital period of 92.90 minutes.
Progress MS-22 refuels the station
Between March 17 and 19, 2023, Progress MS-22 provided refueling to the Russian Segment of the ISS. According to Roskosmos, 37 kilograms of fuel and 73 kilograms of oxidizer were pumped from the cargo ship into the tanks of the Zarya Control Module, FGB.
Progress MS-22 shortly after its integration with a launch vehicle adapter on Feb. 1, 2023. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
payload section with the Progress MS-22 spacecraft is being integrated with the thrid stage of the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Progress MS-22 lifts off on Feb. 9, 2023. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Aft panels of the third stage separate shortly after jettisoning of the second stage during the launch of Progress MS-22 at L+296 seconds after liftoff.
Progress MS-22 separates from the upper stage of the launch vehicle as seen by a camera aboard the third stage.