Start to the ISS and braking at the asteroid

    Immediately, two quite important space events will occur today: for the first time after the Soyuz MS-10 accident, a manned mission, Soyuz MS-11, will go to the ISS, and the OSIRIS-REx will arrive at the asteroid Bennu.

    Missile with the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft and OSIRIS-REx, NASA images

    "Union MS-11"

    Returning to flying after any incident always causes increased attention, despite the fact that it is one of the safest options. In fact, the cause of the accident must be eliminated, and people in the entire production chain work with increased attention. But a purely psychologically fresh reminder of the danger of space flight makes one worry about the crew more than usual. Therefore, it is not surprising that at a press conference before the launch of the Union MS-11, journalists asked if the astronauts were nervous.
    Risk is a component of our profession. We go through many training sessions where we work on various abnormal situations, so we understand that we can encounter them in real space flight, but we also understand that people who assemble a ship and a rocket try to do this as accurately as possible, following as much technical documentation as possible. <...> We absolutely trust them. We are both psychologically and technically ready to start and any situations that, God forbid, happen on board
    Oleg Kononenko

    I believe that when such situations occur, you need to ask three main questions: what happened, why it happened and how to prevent the situation from recurring. We are confident that our flight will be successful, because in the period from the accident that occurred and to this day several successful launches of
    Anne Maclaine were carried out.

    At the moment when all this happened (the accident of October 11) I was lucky that I was here. next to the crew, who felt great after a bad start. Everything went well, and thanks to the fact that smart people who created the rocket and the emergency rescue system and the ship work here, we managed to avoid the accident (the ship) and I was lucky to witness this situation. I am sure that in our case this will not happen and everything will go smoothly.
    David Saint-Jacques
    The cosmonauts' confidence has a practical basis - after the accident of the Soyuz MS-10, three rockets with the same level separation system were successfully launched: on October 25, the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle with the Kosmos-2528 satellite flew, on November 3 - Soyuz-2.1b "with" GLONASS-M "and on November 16 - completely the same type of emergency" Soyuz-FG "with the" Progress MS-10 ". Let me remind you that the cause of the "Union MS-10" accident was a bent sensor of the side unit compartment (first stage). To date, the investigation has not yet been completed on how exactly it was bent in the process of assembling the launch vehicle, and, according to the latest news , so far no one from the staff of the assembly shop has been removed from work.

    It is curious that, despite the transfer of the launch from December 20 to the third, the Soyuz will approach the ISS in a short, six-hour scheme. Usually such force majeure, on the contrary, lead to a two-day approach scheme . I am glad that the investigation took so little time, but here I was lucky, so to speak, that the cause of the accident was easily detectable and removable. Other types of accidents might cause a longer break in flights. And finally, it is worth noting that as early as December 11, a spacewalk is planned, which will have to provide additional information in the case of it is unclear by whom, when, how and why of the drilled hole in the Union MS-09.

    The launch of the ship is scheduled for 14:31 Moscow time on December 3, docking with the ISS - 20:36 Moscow time. Starting with Soyuz MS-09, they show videos from onboard cameras on a rocket, so it should be interesting. Search the Roscosmos broadcast on the agency’s social networks, besides, you should stream NASA-TV on YouTube.


    In the evening, around 19:15 Moscow time, an OSIRIS-REx apparatus will arrive at the Bennu asteroid (101955 Bennu). It started on the night of September 9, 2016 and, having worked for the target until spring 2021, will return the asteroid samples for the Earth in the fall of 2023. By space, these are short terms - Rosetta flew to Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s comet for ten years. Asteroid Bennu has a much closer to Earth orbit (in the 22nd century there are even chances that it will collide with the Earth), so it is much easier to reach it. OSIRIS-Rex required only one long start of the engines with a speed change of 431 m / s and one gravitational maneuver near the Earth.

    Animation Wikimedia Commons according to NASA

    The first photo from a distance of 2 million kilometers was taken in August, and last Sunday, OSIRIS-REx and Bennu separated only 30 kilometers.

    Photos NASA

    But this animation is made from photos from November 2. Rotation is accelerated, Bennu makes one revolution in 4.3 hours.

    In general, OSIRIS-REx for the most part has already arrived - the main maneuvers were carried out on October 1 and 15 and changed the speed of the device in the amount of 486 m / s. Further the probe already practically "creeped". By two inclusions of the engines on October 29 and November 5, the speed relative to the asteroid was reduced from 5.2 to 0.1 m / s, and the maneuver on November 13 reduced it from 0.14 to 0.04 m / s. On November 30, the final correction took place, and on December 3, the device will approach to a distance of 20 km and go into orbit relative to the asteroid. The main task is to take a sample with a special manipulator, but before that OSIRIS-REx will fly around for a long time and choose a place.

    Animation of Wikimedia Commons according to NASA

    An asteroid is so small and light that even random disturbing effects can make it difficult to work in its orbit. For example, in 2017, a microscopic disturbing thrust was recorded on the probe . It turned out that from the illuminated side of the apparatus, the moisture that had been deposited accidentally before the start evaporates. I had to perform a long program to get rid of it - the probe alternately turned to the Sun in different directions and warmed them.

    But this photo is an important element of the preparation of the probe for work. Since October, we have tested the TAGSAM manipulator, with which the probe will collect asteroid samples — it has been deployed, mobility checked, photographed, and the apparatus was screwed up before and after resetting the 1.2 kg cover. The moments measured by these maneuvers will allow weighing the collected samples - the greater their mass, the harder it will be to twist OSIRIS-REx.

    If everything goes according to plan, the probe will take a sample of the asteroid in mid-2020 ...

    and, returning them to a special capsule to Earth in 2023, will be the first American probe to deliver the asteroid material to Earth. You can read about similar missions that brought samples of other celestial bodies here .

    UPD1: "Soyuz" in orbit, everything is fine, closer to the ISS according to plan.

    UPD2: Astronaut Alexander Gerst posted on his Twitter view of the launch of the "Union" with the ISS

    UPD3: "Soyuz" docked, OSIRIS-REx arrived at the orbit of the asteroid Bennu, you can exhale.

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