Russian cargo ship to make a novel day-long parking spot swap at space station -
Oct 20, 2021 1 min, 48 secs

The robotic Progress 78 cargo ship will "station-keep" near the station for more than a day.

An uncrewed Russian cargo ship will begin swapping parking spots at the International Space Station tonight (Oct. 20) in a move that will take just over a day to reach its new berth.

The Progress 78 spacecraft is scheduled to undock from Russia's Poisk module at the station at 7:42 p.m.

There won't be any coverage of the undocking on NASA Television, but you can watch it redock at its new port at the International Space Station on Thursday.

After undocking tonight, the Progress spacecraft will "station-keep" (that's NASA-speak for hold its position) at a point about 120 miles (193 km) from the space station until for more than a day — 28 hours, 41 minutes to be exact — before redocking at the stations' new Russian-built Nauka laboratory module Friday at 12:23 a.m.

It's unusual for a spacecraft to hold position for so long near the space station, but NASA said the waiting time would assist with the redocking procedure!

Additionally, Progress 78 will be able to do leak checks of the Nauka module propellant's lines before the module fires its thrusters to perform "orientation control" of the station, NASA officials noted in a statement about the maneuver. .

(Yet another Russian spacecraft, a Soyuz MS-18 crew capsule that returned a film crew to Earth last week, briefly knocked the ISS off-orientation on Oct. 15. NASA and Roscosmos are looking into the root cause.).

The Progress 78 spacecraft will perform the docking without the help of the station's current Expedition 66 crew, but Russian cosmonauts are standing by just in case they need to assist with the redocking, NASA said in a blog post about station operations.

Progress 78 launched to the space station in late June and and arrived at the orbiting lab on July 1, when it docked at the Poisk module after a two-day trip!

Its port switch comes just a week before another Russian cargo spacecraft, Progress 79, will depart Earth for the space station.

Progress 79 will haul three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the space station for an expected docking at the aft port of the Zvezda service module at 9:34 p.m.

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