Progress 80: Russia’s latest Cargo Spaceship to the International Space Station

On February 17, Russia sent and completed the docking of another cargo ship to the International space station. This freighter craft, the Progress 80 is part of a long series of Russian missions to the ISS. What is so special about this particular launch is that NASA decided to do a live stream of the docking of the ship onto ISS.

What is the Progress spacecraft?

Progress was created in response to the necessity for a continuous supply of supplies in order to conduct long-duration space missions. It’s a Russian disposable cargo spaceship whose mission is to provide the materials required to keep humans in orbit alive. Progress is based on the crewed Soyuz spacecraft and is launched using the same Soyuz rocket. Depending on the crew’s needs, between three and four Progress trips to the ISS are made each year.

History of the Progress spacecraft

Progress is of much the same size and shape as Soyuz. It consists of three modules: a pressurized forward module, a fuel compartment, a propulsion module There were many small variations between the different flights, but the major upgrades are reflected in the change of name.

  • Progress (1978–90) – The first Progress design resulted in the construction of 42 spacecraft, the last of which was launched in May 1990.
  • The improved Progress M’s first 43 missions were all to Mir, and after Mir’s re-entry, Progress was employed as the International Space Station’s resupply vehicle. There have been approximately 80 trips to the International Space Station as of December 2020.
  • The Progress spacecraft has been upgraded with a new digital flight computer and digital telemetry system. Progress M-01M was the first spacecraft in this series. The Progress M-29M was the most recent launch in 2015.
  • Another version, Progress M1, is capable of transporting more propellant to the space station (but less overall cargo). 
  • Progress M2 was a planned variation for the projected Mir-2 space station, however it was scrapped owing to financial constraints.
  • Progress MS is an enhanced version of Progress that was initially released on December 21, 2015, and is the current version in use, featuring a slew of additional features

Progress 80, Russia’s latest launch to the ISS

The Progress 80 (as designated by NASA) or Progress MS-19 was the Progress spacecraft’s 172nd voyage. The Progress 80 resupply cargo ship, loaded with approximately three tonnes of food, fuel, and supplies, took out from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome at 11:25 p.m. ET (04:25 p.m. UTC) on February 15 and docked safely on February 17. Before landing at the International Space Station, the cargo orbited the Earth more than 30 times, which was a significant achievement.

On the 17th of February, NASA TV broadcast live footage of the cargo ship’s arrival at 1:30 a.m. EST (0630 GMT), when the Progress docked with the Russian Poisk docking module.

Many Progress spacecraft were able to reach the station in under two orbits, or three hours, starting in 2018. However, several factors influence the time of launches and space station visits, including the operations of other spacecraft attached to the station. This voyage set new marks for both circling the Earth and docking time.

The Progress 80 spacecraft is carrying a total of 2,523 kilogrammes (5,562 lb) of cargo, of which 1,632 kg (3,598 lb) is dry cargo. 

  • Dry cargo: 1,632 kg (3,598 lb)
  • Fuel: 431 kg (950 lb)
  • Oxygen: 40 kg (88 lb)
  • Water: 420 kg (930 lb)

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