Progress MS-21 (82P) | Soyuz 2.1a

Lift Off Time
October 26, 2022 – 00:20:09 UTC | 03:20:09 MSK
Mission Name
Progress MS-21 (82P), a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS)
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
ROSCOSMOS
Customer
(Who paid for this?)
ROSCOSMOS
Rocket
Soyuz 2.1a
Launch Location
Launch Complex 31/6, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Payload mass
~2,520 kg of cargo
Where did the spacecraft go?
It rendezvoused with the ISS, ~400 km low Earth orbit (LEO) at a 51.65° inclination
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
No, this is not a capability of Soyuz
Where did the first stage land?
The boosters crashed into the steps of Kazakhstan
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
No, this is not a capability of Soyuz
Were these fairings new?
Yes
This was the:
– 21st launch of a Progress MS spacecraft
– 82nd cargo delivery to the ISS
– 174th Progress launch

145th orbital launch attempt of 2022
Where to re-watch
Launch replay
Docking replay

How Did It Go?

Progress MS-21 (82P) is a cargo resupply mission that was sent to the International Space Station (ISS). ROSCOSMOS launched it using an uncrewed Progress MS spacecraft atop a Soyuz 2.1a launch vehicle. The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 31/6, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This mission marked the 21st flight of the Progress MS capsule and the 82nd cargo delivery to the space station.

The Progress MS spacecraft ready for the 82P resupply mission to the ISS. (Credit: ROSCOSMOS)

Progress MS-21 (82P)

Payload

Progress MS-21 carried 702 kg of propellant, 420 kg of water for the Rodnik system, 41 kg of pressurized nitrogen, and other cargo and equipment. In addition, the spacecraft delivered personal protection, medical monitoring kits, food, sanitation supplies, and new clothes. Overall, this mission brought approximately 2,520 kg of cargo to the ISS.

Progress MS-21 (82P) Mission Profile

Progress MS separated from the third stage of the Soyuz 2.1a at ~9 min after launch. It autonomously docked to the Poisk module (Poisk is the Russian word for “exploration”) two days later, at 02:48:54 UTC (05:48:54 MSK). It is used as a research facility, as well as a docking compartment for both Soyuz spacecraft and Progress capsule.

Lift off of the Progress MS-21 (82P) mission
Lift off of the Progress MS-21 (82P) mission. (Credit: Kts “Yuzhnyy”)

Approximate Timeline

Hrs:Min:Sec
From Lift-Off
Events
– 00:00:15 Engine start sequence
00:00:00 Lift-Off
+ 00:01:58 First stage separation
+ 00:03:03 Fairing jettison
+ 00:04:47 Second stage separation
+ 00:04:57 Tail section separation
+ 00:08:45 Third stage main engine cutoff
+ 00:08:49 Progress MS separation

What Is Soyuz 2.1a?

ROSCOSMOS’s Soyuz is a multi-use medium-lift launch vehicle that was introduced in far 1966 and since then has been the workhorse of the Soviet/Russian space program. It is capable to launch civilian and military satellites, as well as cargo and crewed missions to the ISS. Over the decades, several variants of the Soyuz rocket have been developed. Soyuz 2.1a is one of its latest iterations that belongs to the Soyuz-2 rocket family.

Soyuz 2.1a, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Progress MS-16
Soyuz 2.1a is starting its Progress MS-16 mission (Credit: ROSCOSMOS)

The rocket consists of three stages, all of them are expendable. When launching to the ISS, Soyuz-2 can be flown with either a Progress capsule or a Soyuz spacecraft. On the Progress MS-21 mission, the Progress MS module was used to deliver cargo to the ISS.

Soyuz 2.1a is about 46.3 meters (152 ft) in height and 2.95 meters (9 feet) in diameter. The vehicle’s total lift-off mass is approximately 312,000 kg (688,000 lb). The rocket’s payload lift capacity to low-Earth orbit (LEO) is between 6,600 and 7,400 kg depending on the launch site.

Stages

First Stage Second Stage Third stage
Engine 4 RD-107A RD-108A RD-0110
Total Thrust 840 kN (188,720 lbf),
sea ​​level
1,020 kN (229,290 lbf),
vacuum
792 kN (178,140 lbf),
sea ​​level
922 kN (207,240 .) lbf),
vacuum
298 kN (67,000 lbf),
vacuum
Specific Impulse (ISP) 263 s, sea level
320 s, vacuum
258 s, sea level
321 s, vacuum
326 s, vacuum

Side Boosters

The first stage of the Soyuz 2.1a rocket is composed of four side boosters that are powered by RD-107A engines. Each one of the boosters has a conical shape and a dry weight of 3,784 kg. It is approximately 19.6 meters in length, with a diameter of 2.7 meters. Each side booster has two vernier thrusters that are used for flight control.

The RD-107A engine runs on rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOx). The propellants are stored in the pressurized aluminum alloy tanks, the kerosene tank is located in the cylindrical part of the booster, and the LOx one is in the conical section. Each one of those engines has four combustion chambers and together they are capable of producing a thrust of 840 kN at sea level and 1,020 kN in a vacuum.

"Korolev cross"Progress MS-16 mission
“Korolev cross” seen during Stage I separation on the Progress MS-16 mission. (Credit: ROSCOSMOS’s livestream)

Perhaps, the most spectacular moment of the Soyuz-2 rocket’s launch is the separation of the first stage. It happens approximately two minutes after the launch. The boosters perform a pattern, known as the “Korolev cross” (named after Sergei Korolev, a very important figure of the USSR space program and history).

Second And Third Stages

The center core stage is powered by a single RD-108A engine, and the upper stage is fitted with a single RD-0110 engine. Both of these engines run on rocket-grade kerosene and LOx and have four combustion chambers. The second stage is 27.10 meters long, with a diameter of 2.95 meters, and a dry mass of 6,545 kg. It has four vernier thrusters for three-axis flight control.

The third stage of a Soyuz-2 rocket has a height of 6.7 meters, a diameter of 2.7 meters, and a dry mass of 2,355 kg. One interesting thing about the engine on this stage is that it starts its ignition sequence prior to stage separation. This process is called “hot fire staging”.

Progress MS Spacecraft

The Progress module is a space “truck” for delivering cargo to the ISS. Its design is largely derived from the Soyuz spacecraft that serves for the transportation of astronauts to the ISS. The Progress capsule is 7.9 meters in length and 2.7 meters in diameter. It consists of three parts: a pressurized cargo module, a propellant compartment, and a rear service module (like the Soyuz spacecraft).

Unlike Cargo Dragon 2, it is not designed to bring cargo back to Earth. This is because the three modules on Progress are not capable of splitting before re-entry. Therefore, after unloading the cargo, the crew progressively fills it only with trash. At the end of its mission, the spaceship separates from the ISS, performs a deorbit burn, and entirely burns up upon re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere.

Progress MS-11 (72P), approaching ISS Pirs node, Expedition 59
Progress MS-11 (72P) approaching the ISS (Credit: NASA).

The MS series is the latest modernized variation of the Progress spacecraft that began flying in December 2015. Among the introduced upgrades are improved orbital debris shielding, a new flight-control and navigation systems, as well as a new external compartment that can be used for satellite deployment.

Kurs-NA Automatic Docking System

Like the Soyuz spacecraft, Progress MS is equipped with a Kurs-NA automatic docking system that was first tested on the Progress M-15M mission in July 2012. Compared to its ancestor, Kurs-A, the new system has only one AO-753A rendezvous antenna. Kurs-A had five (two 2AO-VKA and three AKR-VKA) of them. This antenna broadcasts radar pulses that are needed to determine the altitude and relative position of the spacecraft to the ISS. Moreover, Kurs-NA uses less power than Kurs-A.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov and the TORU system
Expedition 64 Commander Sergey Ryzhikov practices using the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit (TORU) (Credit: NASA)

In addition, the Progress MS spacecraft can be docked to the ISS manually by the docking system called the Tele-Robotically Operated Rendezvous unit (TORU). This manual system serves as a backup to Kurs-NA in emergency situations and is located inside the Zvezda service module. On the Progress MS-16 mission, the control of the capsule had to be switched over to the TORU due to a signal strength issue of the Kurs system.

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