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Soyuz MS-05 completes a successful mission
In the second manned launch of 2017, the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft scuccessfully carried three members of Expeditions 52 and 53 on a 4.5-month tour of duty aboard the International Space Station, ISS. The liftoff of Soyuz MS-05 took place as scheduled on July 28, 2017, making it only the fifth summer launch out of 51 Soyuz trips to the ISS. In just around six hours, the transport ship made it to the orbital outpost.
The primary crew of the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft (left to right): Paolo Nespoli, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Randy Bresnik inside the descent module during fit checks in Baikonur on July 17, 2017.
Soyuz MS-05 mission at a glance:
Preparations for launch
The launch campaign for the Soyuz MS-05 mission began in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, with the loading of the spacecraft into a vacuum chamber for leak tests on July 3, 2017. After several days of checks, the Soyuz MS-05 was installed in vertical position inside its test rig of the processing building at Site 254.
As preparations were entering the final phase, the primary and backup crews flew to Baikonur on July 16, 2017. The next day, they began familiarization training inside the Soyuz MS-05. The crews also checked their spacesuits and seatliners, conducted ballistic exercises and reviewed onboard documentation, practiced manual control of the spacecraft, reviewed one more time the design of the Russian segment of the ISS and completed preparations for scientific experiments aboard the ISS.
On July 19, 2017, the specialists at RKK Energia successfully completed fueling of the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft with propellant and pressurized gases. The vehicle was then returned to the MIK KA processing building at Site 254 and was installed in vertical position in its checkout rig for final operations. On the same day, the spacecraft was integrated with a transfer ring which serves as an interface with the launch vehicle.
Soyuz MS-05 shortly after completion of fueling on July 19, 2017.
On July 21, managers from RKK Energia conducted the final visual inspection of the spacecraft before "encapsulating" the vehicle inside its payload fairing.
On July 24, primary and backup crews conducted their final familiarization with the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft in its full launch configuration. The cosmonauts and astronauts boarded the vehicle installed in vertical position inside the processing building at Site 254. Next time, the primary crew would board Soyuz MS-05 on the launch pad several hours before blastoff scheduled for July 28, 2017.
Few hours after the exercise, the payload section, including the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft inside its protective fairing and its launch vehicle adapter, was lowered into horizontal position, loaded onto a railway trailer and transported from the processing complex at Site 254 to the vehicle assembly building at Site 112 for integration with its Soyuz-FG rocket.
The final assembly of the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle, including the integration of the payload section with the third stage, installation of the Emergency Escape System, SAS, and the integration of the upper composite with the first and second stages of the rocket was completed on July 25. On the same day, space officials cleared the launch vehicle for the rollout to Pad 5 at Site 1, which took place next morning.
After the vehicle had arrived at the launch facility and was installed in vertical position, the launch personnel began operations of the first day on the pad. They included the testing of communications systems, the simulation of readiness of the Emergency Escape System, SAS, and the trial uplink of digital data onboard the vehicle, Roskosmos said.
The Soyuz-FG rocket with the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft travels to its launch pad on the morning of July 26, 2017.
The State Commission overseeing the launch was scheduled to reconvene on July 27 and formally confirm the primary and backup crews for the Soyuz MS-05 mission. After the meeting, the members of both crews were to conduct a traditional pre-launch press conference.
Propelled by the simultaneous thrust of the four engines of the first stage and the single engine of the second stage, the rocket headed east to align its ascent trajectory with an orbital plane inclined 51.67 degrees toward the Equator. Slightly less than two minutes into the flight, the ship's emergency escape system was jettisoned, immediately followed by the separation of the four boosters of the first stage. Almost exactly 40 seconds after the separation of the first stage, the payload fairing protecting the spacecraft in the dense atmosphere split into two halves and fell away.
The second (core) stage of the booster continued firing for less than five minutes into the flight. Moments before the second stage completed its firing 4.7 minutes into the flight, the four-chamber engine of the third stage ignited, firing through a lattice structure connecting the two boosters. Moments after the separation of the core booster, the tail section of the third stage split into three segments and fell away.
The third stage continued firing until the command to cut off its engines 8.7 minutes into the flight at 18:50 Moscow Time (11:50 EDT).
According to the Russian mission control in Korolev, Soyuz MS-05 entered an initial orbit with the following parameters:
Rendezvous and docking with ISS
Soyuz MS-05 followed the six-hour 19-minute rendezvous profile with the International Space Station. As usual, the spacecraft relied on an automated rendezvous mode under control of specialists on the ground and the crew on the ISS.
The docking of Soyuz MS-05 at the MIM1 Rassvet module, a part of the Russian segment of the outpost, was scheduled at 01:01 Moscow Time on July 29, 2017, (6:01 p.m. EDT on July 28), however, in reality, the first contact between the transport spacecraft and the station took place at 00:54 Moscow Time on July 29 (5:54 p.m. EDT on July 28), as the vehicles were entering orbital night time over Europe.
Following standard pressure checks, the hatches between the transport ship and the station were scheduled to open around 7:40 p.m. EDT on July 28, according to NASA. However, the actual opening took place at 7:57 p.m. EDT.
Aboard the station, three fresh members of the Soyuz MS-05 crew joined Fyodor Yurchikhin, Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer, who had arrived at ISS on Soyuz MS-04. The new team is expected to work on the outpost for 4.5 months and return home on Dec. 14, 2017.
ISS configuration at the time of Soyuz MS-05 arrival.
On Aug. 17, 2017, Sergei Ryazansky from the Soyuz MS-05 crew and his fellow cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin from Soyuz MS-04 crew wearing Orlan spacesuits conducted the 43rd spacewalk from the Russian segment of the ISS. The hatch of the Pirs Docking Compartment, SO1, was opened at 17:37 Moscow Time.
The spacewalk program called for the release of several nano-satellites, the installation of science equipment, taking samples for microbial presence on the exterior of the station, photographic documentation of the station's exterior and its components. The planned duration of the spacewalk was six hours five minutes. It was the 9th spacewalk for Yurchikhin and fourth for Ryazansky. The actual duration of the spacewalk reached 7.5 hours.
The Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft with Sergey Ryazansky, Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik from the 53rd long-duration expedition on the International Space Station, ISS, were scheduled to land on December 14, 2017, completing a 139-day mission.
In preparation for the return to Earth, the six-member ISS crew held a traditional change of command ceremony on November 13, during which Randy Bresnik formally handed over the command over the outpost to Aleksandr Misurkin from the Soyuz MS-06 crew. Misurkin and his crewmates Mark Vande Hei and Joseph Acaba will remain aboard the station after the departure of Soyuz MS-05, which will also mark the start of Expedition 54 on the ISS.
The three departing crew members boarded Soyuz MS-05 and closed hatches to the station around 02:01 GMT on December 14 (9:01 p.m. EST on December 13), as the two spacecraft were flying over the Philippine Sea, east of Japan.
Soyuz MS-05 undocked from the MIM1 module, a part of the Russian Segment of the ISS, on Dec. 14, 2017, around 08:14:30 Moscow Time (12:14 a.m. EST, 05:14 GMT). The actual command for the undocking was issued at 08:13 Moscow Time and two minutes after the physical separation between the two spacecraft, Soyuz MS-05 fired its small thrusters to increase its distance from the ISS.
At 10:44 Moscow Time (2:44 a.m. EST), Soyuz MS-05 fired its main engine against the direction of the flight for 280.7 seconds, reducing the spacecraft's velocity by 128 meters per second, which was enough to push it off the orbit and initiate reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. Around 22 minutes later, the Habitation Module, BO, and the Aggregate Compartment, PAO, separated from the Descent Module carrying the crew. Less than three minutes later, the Descent Module entered the dense atmosphere and after another 1.5 minutes, the capsule started experiencing some aerodynamic lift allowing a less steep descent trajectory than it would follow in an uncontrolled ballistic entry. Another five minutes later, as the air resistance increased sharply and the capsule was dissipating its speed, the crew experienced maximum deceleration of about 4G. Another two minutes later, at an altitude of around 11 kilometers, the parachute system initiated a three-stage opening sequence.
The descent module of Soyuz MS-05 was scheduled to touch down on Dec. 14, 2017, at 11:38:28 Moscow Time (3:38 a.m. EST, 08:38 GMT), at a routine landing location 147 kilometers southeast from the town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. The actual landing time was initially reported to be 11:37 Moscow Time.
As of December 12, weather was predicted to be very cold and windy at the landing region (with temperatures ranging from -17C to -20C degrees), but still acceptable for the recovery operations. The sun rose at the landing site at 06:01 and set at 14:32 Moscow Time.
Planned landing timeline for Soyuz MS-05 on Dec. 14, 2017:
Soyuz MS-05 crews:
Mission patch of the Soyuz MS-05 crew.
Soyuz MS-05 during pre-launch processing on July 19, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Final visual inspection of Soyuz MS-05. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Soyuz MS-05 is encapsulated inside its fairing. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
The primary crew of the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft (left to right): Paolo Nespoli, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Randy Bresnik shortly before boarding their spacecraft for the final familiarization training on July 24, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Soyuz MS-05 is loaded on railway platform in preparation for transfer to the vehicle assembly building on July 24, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Soyuz MS-05 is integrated with its launch vehicle. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
Soyuz MS-05 arrives at launch pad. Click to enlarge. Credit: ESA
Soyuz MS-05 shortly after arrival at launch pad on July 26, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: ESA
Crew of the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft bids farewell to well wishers before climbing to the top of the rocket on the launch pad. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
A Soyuz-FG rocket lifts off with the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft on July 28, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
Soyuz MS-05 docks at ISS around six hours afater launch. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
Soyuz MS-05 lands on Dec. 14, 2017. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA