ISS-64 crews ready for manual approach

Four weeks left before the Soyuz MS-17 crewed spacecraft lifts off to the ISS on October 14, 2020. The ISS-64 long-term mission crews continue their exams at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. On September 16, 2020, the examination board evaluated the skills of the Russian backup crew members Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov to manually control the Soyuz MS spacecraft in case an automatics failure during the rendezvous with the station.

Soyuz MS-17 crew. Image credit: Roscosmos

On September 15, 2020 the same exam was taken by Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

The rendezvous to the station is performed automatically, however the cosmonauts train manual approach in case of emergencies during the rendezvous. The skills and knowledge are checked during the exams on manual dynamic modes. The instructor brigade introduces emergencies in accordance with the exam ticket.

The exam itself lasts about two hours, and the commander stays inside the descent module, while the flight engineer is inside the habitable module. Interestingly, that during a real spaceflight in case of an emergency, the flight engineer moves to the habitable module in up to three minutes. The exam simulates this transfer – flight engineer starts acting only 2-3 minutes later after detecting the emergency. Meanwhile, the commander supports the spacecraft orientation, but doesn’t control it until receiving the data from flight engineer. Working with the lidar and coordinate computer unit at the habitable module, flight engineer informs the commander on hovering distance to the docking unit and speed parameters – the information necessary for manually controlled approach. Manual control finishes with zero speed hovering 200 meters away.

During the exam, the ISS-64 prime and backup crews perfectly coped with emergencies, reporting them to Earth and timely switched to manual control, performing the flight program.

Source: Roscosmos