Russian Cargo Ship Boosts ISS Into Higher Orbit

TheInternational Space Station (ISS) is in a higher orbit after a weekend boostfrom one of two unmanned cargo ships docked at the orbital platform.

ARussian-built Progress spacecraft fired its engines for eight minutes and 42seconds to raise the space station's orbit up to about 215 statute miles, anincrease of about one statute mile, NASA officials said. The maneuver will helpplace the ISS in position for the arrival of ISS Expedition13 commander Pavel Vinogradov, flight engineer Jeffrey Williams andBrazilian astronaut MarcosPontes in late March, they added.

Russian ISSflight controllers said the reboost maneuver, which occurred at 5:20 p.m. EST (2020GMT) on Feb. 11, also allowed them to test techniques to dodge space debris inorbit, according to the Interfax News Agency.

"Expertsfrom flight control have analyzed data collected Saturday night when engines ofa Progress resupply ship docked with ISS were test fired. The experiment wasconducted to check a technique for dodging space junk," Yevgeny Melnikov,head of the team responsible for the movements of the Russian segment of ISS toldInterfax.

TwoProgress vehicles are currently docked at the ISS, with Progress19 berthed at the aft end of the station's Zvezda service module while Progress20 sits at the Pirs docking components. The resupply ships carried freshfood, clothes and equipment to the station, which is currently home to ISSExpedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev.

Progress 19is slated to be jettisoned from the station in early March, NASA officials said,adding that the Expedition 12 crew and Pontes will return to Earth in earlyApril.

  • Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 12
  • Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 13

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.