ISS Orbital Altitude Lowered Prior to Soyuz Spacecraft Launch

Note: Photo for illustration purposes.

Specialists of Russia’s TsNIIMash Mission Control Center carried out a maneuver to lower the average orbital altitude of the International Space Station (ISS), using the thrusters of the Progress MS-14 resupply ship, the State Space Corporation Roscosmos reported on Wednesday, TASS reported.

“In compliance with the flight program of the International Space Station, Roscosmos Corporation specialists carried out planned adjustment of the ISS orbit on October 7, 2020,” the statement says.

The thrusters of the Progress MS-14 resupply ship docked to the assembly compartment of the Zvezda module were fired at 11:26 Moscow time and operated for 412.9 seconds. As a result of the maneuver, the space station’s average orbital altitude is set to decrease by 1.3 km to about 418.6 km over the Earth’s surface, Roscosmos said.

Initial plans envisaged raising the space station’s orbit by 400 meters but the parameters of the orbit’s adjustment had to be altered due to the orbital outpost’s unscheduled maneuver in late September. As a source at Russia’s Mission Control Center in Moscow told TASS at the time, the maneuver was carried out due to the orbital outpost’s dangerously close approach by an unknown piece of space debris.

NASA later confirmed this information and reported that the space station conducted the corresponding reboost. NASA specified that the space station’s crew members had stayed in the manned Soyuz spacecraft during the maneuver for safety purposes.

A Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Soyuz MS-17 manned spacecraft is scheduled to blast off from Site No. 31 of the Baikonur spaceport on October 14 to deliver the next expedition to the International Space Station.

The next expedition’s crew will comprise Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov and also NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins. Currently, Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and US astronaut Chris Cassidy are working aboard the orbital outpost.