Progress undocked before next resupply mission

On 30 March 2016 Progress 61P undocked from International Space Station to release free space for next resupply Progress spacecraft.

Progress 61P remained docked since October 1, 2016, and left Zvezda module with load of trash and unnecessary equipment. It performed successful undocking on 30 March 2016 at 14:15:30 GMT (it was 24 hours later then it was originally planned by Russian Mission Control Center). Next it reached safe distance from ISS and will start series of microgravity experiments which will finish on April 8th 2016 with reentry and controlled burn in atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. More about planned experiments performed on Progress You can read here.

Progress 61P will be replaced with next Progress MS-02 (63P) which launch is scheduled for today at 16:23 GMT from Baikonur. After two days of space journey it will dock to International Space Station on Saturday afternoon - according to mission plan docking will be performed at around 18:01 GMT on 2nd April 2016. It will dock to aft SSVP-M8000 port of the Zvezda; whole procedure will be done autonomously, but Yuri Malenchenko and Alexey Ovchinin were designated for monitoring of the Progress parameters. If necessary one of the cosmonauts will perform docking instead of Progress onboard computer. Next Progress will deliver to ISS 2436 kg of equipment, supplies, water and propellant.

MS version is upgraded Progress-M. It has added external compartment which contains up to four small satellites which are deployed during flight. Docking to ISS became easier due the installed direct TV camera and upgraded radio data exchange with ISS. Docking navigation system Kurs-A was changed to Kurs-NA, onboard radio was changed to Unified Command Telemetry System. Upgraded docking system Kurs-A was upgraded for Kurs-NA. Progress-MS is also able to use Luch relay satellites to transmitting telemetry and commands even if there is no direct radio connection with ground control stations.

Sources:
http://tass.ru/en/science/866214
https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/2016/03/30/russia-swaps-cargo-ships-this-week/

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