Progress spacecraft docks with International Space Station

Progress-MS for the first time was controlled by Luch relay satellites

The first Progress cargo spacecraft of the new MS series launched from the Baikonur space center on Monday has successfully docked with the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), following a two-day autonomous flight, a spokesperson for the Russian space mission control said on Dec. 23.

"The docking has been accomplished in an automatic mode," he said.

It was reported earlier that the Progress-MS was being for the first time experimentally controlled by Luch multifunctional relay satellites, which enables data reception and transmission while the spacecraft is not radio-visible to Russian ground control systems.

The Progress-MS is due to replace Progress-M-M resupply ships. All Progress-MS systems are digital. The spaceship has backup electric engines in its docking mechanisms, new command and telemetry system devices and the Kurs-NA docking navigation system developed by Russian Space Systems, which enhances the ship's reliability at the most critical stage of its flight, i.e. its approach to and docking with the ISS. The ship's hull has additional protection against space debris and micro-meteorites.

The spaceship of the new series will be in use for about ten years and should be replaced by a prospective resupply spaceship being designed in Russia in the mid-2020s.

The Progress-MS' launch was originally scheduled for Nov. 21. However, as an investigation into the crash of a Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft on April 28 took longer than was planned, the Progress-MS' launch was postponed to December.

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