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Russian space freighter undocks from ISS

RIA Novosti

16:54 31/08/2010 MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Progress M-06 cargo spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday to begin a seven-day independent scientific mission, a Mission Control spokesman said.

The spacecraft will remain in orbit well away from the station to conduct several scientific experiments before being deorbited on September 6.

"The departure command was issued at 15:22 Moscow time [11:22 GMT]. Some three minutes later the space freighter left Russia's Zvezda module and started its autonomous flight," the spokesman said.

During the flight, scientists will continue the Radar-Progress experiment, aimed at defining the density, sizes and reflectivity of the ionosphere environment around the spacecraft, which is caused by the operations of its liquid propellant engines.

The spacecraft, loaded with trash and other items for disposal, will burn up in the Earth's atmosphere as soon as the experiment is over. Its fragments will fall in remote areas of the Pacific Ocean.

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's orbit and conduct scientific experiments.

The next Progress cargo craft, to be launched on September 8, is scheduled to automatically dock and resupply the station crew on September 10.

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