Just a week after a twin vehicle was cast away from a different Station port, the ISS Progress 11 craft, which arrived at the Station in mid-June, departed the Pirs Docking Compartment at 2:42 p.m. CDT (1942 GMT) following the unlatching of hooks holding the Progress to Pirs. As the Progress undocked, the ISS was flying 240 statute miles over eastern China. The Progress was filled with items no longer needed on the Station and trash.
Aboard the ISS, Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu monitored the autonomous operation and kept tabs as the Progress backed away from the Station.
For the next month, Russian flight controllers will conduct several scientific experiments with the Progress, using its television cameras to capture imagery of sites of ecological interest to Russian researchers while maintaining a safe distance away from the Station. Once those experiments are completed, the Progress will automatically fire its engines to drop out of orbit and burn up in the atmosphere.
A new ISS Progress 12 vehicle arrived at the ISS late Saturday night, U.S. time, ferrying food, fuel, water and supplies for the Station's current inhabitants and those to follow.
The departure of ISS Progress 11 sets the stage for next month's arrival of the Soyuz TMA-3 vehicle to the Pirs Docking Compartment delivering the next resident crew to the ISS along with European Space Agency astronaut Pedro Duque of Spain.
Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale, Expedition 8 Soyuz Commander and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri, and Duque are scheduled to be launched October 18 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, headed for a docking to Pirs on October 20. Duque will spend eight days aboard the ISS conducting science experiments under a commercial contract between ESA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. Duque will return to Earth on Oct. 28 with Malenchenko and Lu. Foale and Kaleri will spend almost 200 days on the Station.