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Russian Spacecraft to Test New Docking System on Space Station

RIA Novosti

15:02 23/04/2014

MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian Progress unmanned cargo spacecraft has undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) to test a new automated approach and docking system, a spokesman for Russia's Mission Control Center said Wednesday.

"The cargo ship undocked from the ISS in an automatic mode using the Kurs-NA system. At 4:16 p.m. Moscow time on Friday, Progress M-21M is expected to re-dock with the station to test the work of Kurs-NA," the spokesman said.

The Kurs-NA automated docking system boasts advanced electronics, a fully-digitized control system and increased docking precision compared to its predecessor. The improved system will be used on all upgraded Soyuz and Progress vehicles in the future.

The new approach system was first tested in space in July 2012, but the Progress cargo ship in that test failed to re-dock with the space station due to an apparent failure in the system's sensors.

During a second test in November, the Progress M-21M resupply craft was forced to dock in a manual mode due to another failure of the Kurs-NA system.

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