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Russian space freighter ready to leave orbital station

RIA Novosti

16:5907/05/2010 MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) - The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) has loaded a Russian space freighter with garbage and readied the spacecraft for undocking, Mission Control said on Friday.

The Progress M-04M space freighter has been docked with the ISS since February 5, and is scheduled to leave the orbital station on May 10.

"The command for undocking will be issued at 14:13 Moscow time [10.13 GMT] on May 10, and three minutes later the freighter will separate from the Zvezda module [on the ISS]," Mission Control said in a statement.

The spacecraft will stay in an autonomous flight for two months after undocking from the ISS and take part in the Reflection geophysical experiment to study reflective characteristics of the freighter's hull and the transparency of the Earth's atmosphere.

The Progress M-04M is scheduled to be sunk in the Pacific Ocean on July 1.

Progress-series freighters have been the backbone of the Russian space cargo fleet for decades. In addition to their main mission as cargo spacecraft, they are used to adjust the ISS orbit and conduct scientific experiments.

Russia "buried" its last analog - as opposed to digitally controlled - space freighter, the Progress M-67, in the Pacific in September.

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