Almost 3 tons of supply and materials have arrived at the International Space Station after an unpiloted Progress space freight was launched yesterday and docket without problems to the lab complex, despite initial fears of a potential misalignment.
An autonomous approach strategy was selected, and the Progress spacecraft docked at the Pirs-module, whose face is position towards Earth. During the approach, an apparent misalignment was observed, and Russian astronaut Anatoly Ivanshin offered to take direct control and pilot the ship manually to prevent any potential incidents.
Docked without issue
After the astronaut offered to take over control, there were a few moments of waiting. As the spacecraft continued, its approach mission control asked him to wait. The docking procedure took place a few seconds later as the two lock mechanisms engaged and the spacecraft was secured.
The cargo payload includes propellant, oxygen tanks, containers of water, various crew supplies, spare parts, and additional research equipment. All of them will be put to good use, especially as the operations related to the upgrading of certain technological parts of the station will continue in the following weeks.
Preparing for return
The crew of the station will soon start the preparation procedures for the return of astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, who are scheduled to come back to Earth with the help of the Crew Dragon capsule that carried them to the station more than two months ago.
On August 1, the Crew Dragon capsule will be undocked and start its journey towards Earth, with a splashdown landing taking place in the Gulf of New Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean on August 2. Seven potential splashdown sites are being tracked by NASA and SpaceX, out of which a primary and backup one will be selected before undocking.
It is worth noting that the splashdown will be the first one organized by NASA since 1975.