Soyuz Progress 63P (MS-02) to Launch Today


Image Credit & Copyright: Energia.

LAUNCH ALERT: Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 16:23 UTC (12:23 EDT) a Russian Soyuz 2-1A rocket; ISS Progress 63P (63P) is slated to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) with supplies, hardware, fuel and water. ISS Progress 63-P is actually its designation through NASA & International Space Station (ISS) records as it’s the 63rd Progress vehicle to launch to the ISS. Roscosmos catalogs it as Progress MS-02.

Progress 63P/MS-02 will not be on the “Fast-Track” system of the 4 or 5-orbit, 6-hour launch to docking at the ISS. Instead they chose to go with the two-day procedure for detailed flight testing. Upon arrival to the ISS it will be docking with the aft port Zvezda “Star” Service Module (DOS-8) which should take place at approximately 18:01 UTC (14:01 EDT) on April 2.

NOTE: When SpaceX.s Dragon arrives in April it will be the first time since February 2011 that six spacecraft were parked at Station.

TSSKB-Progress Soyuz 2-1A Rocket: is a three-stage (sort of), medium lift rocket developed and manufactured by the Progress State Research and Production Rocket Space Center (TSsKB Progress). The 2-1A was introduced in 2004 and works alongside the Soyuz-U which currently delivers humans to the International Space Station (ISS). It’s actually derived from the Soyuz U rocket which is the most flown rocket in history with almost 800 launches.   The Soyuz “Union” rocket family is the most used space launch system in history with more than 1700 launches and traces its roots back to 1957 in the form of the Soviet R7 missile.

FREGAT UPPER STAGE: You want precision? The Soyuz 2-1A can be fitted with the Fregat Upper Stage which is an autonomous stage that re-fire its S5.92 engine multiple times to assure proper trajectories. Fregat comes in 3 configurations for the Soyuz, the Fregat, Fregat-M and Fregat-MT with the MT being that larger of the two and thus, can carry more hypergolic propellant. The larger MT is 1.85 m in length and 3.4 m in diameter.

THIRD STAGE (Assembly 1): The third stage, which would really be a second stage on other rockets is 6.7 m in length and 2.6 m in diameter and is powered by a single RD-0110 engine in a four thrust chamber configuration. It utilizes Rocket propellant-1 (RP-1) fuel, Liquid Oxygen oxidizer (LOX) and burns for about 230 seconds.

SECOND STAGE (Core Unit): The core stage of the Soyuz is odd in the fact that it burns during the first and second stage of the rocket. As the rocket lifts off, it and the boosters work together as the first stage then after the strap on boosters are jettisoned the core stage continues to operate as the then second stage.

The core (1st & 2nd stage) stage is 27.8 m in length and 2.95 m in diameter and is powered by a single RD-108A engine in a four cruise thrust chamber configuration. It utilizes Kerosene fuel, Liquid Oxygen oxidizer (LOX) and burns for a total of about 280-290 seconds. Attitude control is powered by four Vernier thrusters.

FIRST STAGE/BOOSTERS (Lateral Assembly): The Soyuz is equipped with four strap-on boosters that are used in unison with the core stage during first stage flight. They are each 19.6 m in length and 2.68 m in diameter and are each powered by a single RD-107A engine four cruise thrust chamber configuration. They utilize Kerosene fuel, Liquid Oxygen oxidizer (LOX) and burn for approximately 118 seconds. Attitude control is powered by two Vernier thrusters.



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