Last Progress Spacecraft Ready For Launch to Mir

By Keith Cowing
January 17, 2001
Filed under

Progres M1-5

Updated 27 January 2001:

The last Progress spacecraft to travel to Mir has been completed. Its mission: to
bring the aging space station back to Earth and crash it into the Pacific Ocean.

The launch of Progress M1-5 aboard a Soyuz-U rocket on Wednesday was originally planned
for 18 January 2001. However, this lauch was scrubbed a few hours before launch time
when Mir experienced a problem with its electrical system. This caused Mir’s
gyrodynes (which orient the station) to automatically shut down. This left Mir in
free drift. Mir’s computer system also went offline. In order for Mir to be able to
dock with the incoming Progress vehicle the gyrodynes and computer system will need to
be back online.

Mission controllers in Moscow have repeatedly expressed confidence that they wil be
able to upload new software and reboot the computers (and then restart the gyrodynes)
in time to accommodate this new launch schedule.

Progress took its time getting to Mir (3 days as opposed the normal 2 days) using
small steering thrusters instead of its larger engines so as to conserve the maximum
available fuel for the deorbiting of Mir.

The Progress M-43 spacecraft currently docked to Mir is now scheduled to undock on
26 January and head back to Earth for a destructive reentry on 30 January. Progress
M-43 was launched on 17 October 2000 and docked with Mir on 24 October.

Progress M-43 was used to boost Mir’s orbit as a stop-gap measure while Russia and
its commercial partner MirCorp looked for ways to continue the commercial operation
of Mir. Viable commercial support was not found. The Russian government then
proceeded to make the formal decision to deorbit Mir in early 2001.

Mir’s gydrodynes will be shut off on 19 February. Progress M1-5 will make two engine
burns, one on 4 March, the other on 5 to lower Mir’s orbit. If all goes according
to plan, Mir is scheduled to reenter Earth’s atmosphere in one large piece and land
in the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand the next day, 6 March 2001.

Much of Mir’s 130+ ton structure is expected to survive reentry. As such, Earth’s
oldest space station will then take on a new life – as an artificial coral reef.

Related Links

  • Progress M1-5
    Transport Cargo Vehicle Launched to MIR Orbital Complex
    , RSC Energia

  • Photo Report:
    Progress M1-5 Launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome
    , RSC Energia

  • Photo Report:
    Progress M1-5 Rocket Moved to Launch Pad
    , RSC Energia

  • Docking of
    Progress-M-43 logistics vehicle with the Mir station
    , RSC Energia

  • MIRNEWS 492 – 27 Jan 2001

  • MIRNEWS 491 – 24 Jan 2001

  • MIRNEWS 490

  • MIRNEWS 489

  • MIRNEWS.488 –
    11 Jan 2001

  • MIRNEWS.487 – 3
    Jan 2001

  • MIRNEWS.484 – 10
    October 2000

  • Earlier MIRNEWS reports

  • SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.