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RSC Energia: the first communications session with a cargo spacecraft via a satellite

December 21, 2015

On Monday, December 21, RSC Energia specialists for the first time in the history of operation of the cargo and crew transportation spacecraft of Progress and Soyuz type ran a communications session with the new-series spacecraft Progress MS via a relay satellite.

The launch vehicle (LV) Soyuz-2.1 carrying Progress MS cargo spacecraft was launched from Area 31 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 21 at 11:44:39 Moscow Time. Carried onboard the spacecraft are about 2.5 metric tons of cargos for the International Space Station (ISS).

"For the first time in history, communication with a cargo transportation spacecraft was established via a satellite. Up until that moment, we didnt have an experience like this neither with manned spacecraft Soyuz, nor with unmanned cargo spacecraft Progress. We got the satellite involved during the first orbit of the mission. About 10 minutes after separation from the third stage of the launch vehicle the spacecraft executed a turn maneuver to establish an attitude pointing at the Luch-5B spacecraft stationed in the geostationary orbit at a longitude 16 degrees West", - said deputy head of a scientific and technical center of RSC Energia Igor Brodsky.

According to him, communication with the spacecraft via satellite became possible after introduction of a new suite of onboard radio equipment EKTS, capable of handling communications with the Luch relay system. The availability of the satellite control and monitoring loop considerably expands the radio visibility zones and makes it possible to exchange data with Progress spacecraft for 83% of a day in orbit, provides all three relay satellites are used.

The cargo spacecraft of the new series Progress MS is the first spacecraft equipped to handle communications with the Luch system. Before this mission, it was only possible to communicate with spacecraft via ground stations, located on the Russian territory", - explained I. Brodsky.

He pointed out, that regardless of the use of relay satellites, the ground loop continues to be used for uplinking commands and downlinking telemetry data. The onboard computer also stores a program, which, in case communications with the ground are lost, will automatically issue commands to raise the orbit in order to assure 12 days of free flight.

The satellite relay system Luch consists of three spacecraft ("Luch-5A", "Luch-5B", "Luch-5C") in geostationary orbit and three ground radio relaying stations: in Korolev, Zheleznogorsk and Uglegorsk. The system operator is the company Gonets Satellite System.

The new-series transportation spacecraft Progress MS and Soyuz MS were developed as a result of a radical upgrade of Progress M and Soyuz TMA spacecraft.

Thanks to the use of new ground and onboard radio systems, it became possible to use state-of-the-art data transmission protocols, which resulted in improved operational stability of spacecraft control system.

Most of the engineering solutions incorporated into the design of Soyuz MS and Progress MS spacecraft will be used in the design of the new-generation Crew Transportation Spacecraft (CTS), which is currently under development at RSC Energia.

 

OAO RSC Energia is a leading enterprise of rocket-space industry, the prime organization for manned space systems. The Corporation is working to develop unmanned space and rocket systems (launch vehicles and inter-orbital transfer), high-tech systems for various applications to be used in non-space fields. Since August 2014 the Corporation is headed by Vladimir Solntsev.

 

RSC Energia press-center

 

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