A Russian cargo ship left the International Space Station early Thursday (November 25th) to make way for a new docking port, which is already on its way to the orbiting laboratory.
The automated cargo ship Progress 78, also known as Progress MS-17, was undocked from the Russian science module Nauka on the station at 6:22 a.m. EST (1122 GMT) and is doomed to fiery annihilation in the Earth’s atmosphere. His departure clears the way for the arrival of Prichal, a new Russian docking port module that launched on Wednesday (November 24) for the International Space Station.
“The space station is ready to receive the Prichal module!” Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, the station’s commander, wrote on twitter after undocking.
Related: Space Station Robotic Cargo Ship Fleet (A Photo Guide)
The departure takes place in the middle of the US American Thanksgiving holiday in space, which the seven-person astronaut crew of the station will celebrate with a special turkey meal and perhaps even a “turkey trot,” according to their vacation video.
The Prichal module (the name is Russian for “pier”) is a 4-ton compartment with six docking ports that add 494 cubic feet (14 cubic meters) to the space station’s habitable volume. It will use one of these docking ports to connect to the Nauka multipurpose lab on Friday (Nov. 26), while the other five will be available for visits to Russian vehicles.
According to RussianSpaceWeb.com, Prichal is also used to “test architecture for potentially permanent settlements in space”. It is being delivered to the space station by a modified Progress spaceship, which will eventually undock from Prichal for its own disposal.
But before Prichal can dock with the station, Progress 78 had to clear out.
The @Space_Station is ready to receive the # Prichal module! The # ProgressMS17 has been undocked from the Nauka module and releases the docking port for the node module. The Progress removed a docking unit adapter that allowed Soyuz and Progress spaceships to dock with the Nauka. pic.twitter.com/R9JWpxuNFNNovember 25, 2021
Russia’s space agency Roskosmos launched the cargo ship Progress 78 for the space station on June 29 and arrived two days later. It provided more than 1,630 kilograms of supplies for the station’s astronaut crew.
After its mission ends, Progress 78 was expected to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere when it fell from space over the Pacific Ocean four hours after undocking, Roscosmos officials said in a statement.
The Prichal module will dock with the International Space Station on Friday morning at 10:26 a.m. EST (1526 GMT). You can watch it live online, with NASA’s webcast starting at 9:30 a.m. EST (1430 GMT).