Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get new Kurs-NA ISS docking system in 2015

Russian spacecraft performing flights to the International Space Station will be equipped with a new automated approach and docking system starting next year, the manufacturer of the system said Monday, RIA Novosti reports.

"All Kurs systems will be replaced with Kurs-NA equipment in 2015," the Izhevskiy Radiozavod company said in a statement.

The unmanned Progress M-21M resupply vehicle currently docked with the station successfully tested the new system last week.

The cargo ship undocked from the ISS in an automatic mode using the new Kurs-NA system on Wednesday and re-docked Friday.

The Kurs-NA 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 Progress and manned Soyuz spacecraft in the future.

The Kurs-NA was first tested in space in July 2012, but the Progress cargo ship in that test failed to re-dock with the 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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