Progress MS-08 undocked from the International Space Station after just over six months attached to the orbiting outpost’s Zvezda service module. Rather than an immediate deorbit, however, the cargo freighter will continue orbiting Earth for a week.
Undocking occurred at 02:16 UTC Aug. 23, 2018. Once the unpiloted Progress MS-08 was safely away from the station, the second phase of its mission began. Roscosmos will spend the next week monitoring the spacecraft as Russian mission controllers on the ground perform engineering tests. Once complete, the spacecraft will conduct a deorbit burn over the Pacific Ocean for a destructive reentry. This is currently anticipated to occur on Aug. 29.
Some 2,700 kilograms of cargo and supplies were brought to the ISS by the spacecraft. It launched Feb. 13, 2018, and docked to the aft port of the Zvezda service module two days later.
After its cargo was unloaded, it was used as a place to store trash and unneeded equipment that will ultimately burn up in Earth’s atmosphere along with the spacecraft.
With this vehicle’s departure from the space station, only three spacecraft remain attached: Soyuz MS-08, Soyuz MS-09 and Progress MS-09. Another Progress freighter isn’t expected to launch until late October 2018.
In the meantime, the current crew—Expedition 56—is expecting the Japanese Kounotori 7 to visit the ISS in mid-September.
Kounotori 7 is targeting a 22:32 UTC Sept. 10, 2018, launch atop an H-IIB rocket from Tanegashima Island, Japan. It is set to bring some 6,000 kilograms of science experiments, crew supplies and equipment for the ISS, including several lithium-ion batteries to continue the replacement of the outpost’s old nickel-hydrogen batteries on the station’s 110-meter-long truss.
Once the unpiloted cargo ship rendezvous with the space station several days later on Sept. 14, it will be captured by the station’s 17.6-meter robotic Canadarm2 before being berthed to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.
After the spacecraft arrives, two spacewalks by two members of Expedition 56 are planned to continue the replacement of the station’s batteries, which started in early 2017 during the Kounotori 6 mission. The outings, U.S. EVA-52 and U.S. EVA-53, are currently expected to occur Sept. 20 and 26 respectively.