Cosmonauts help to dock cargo craft on ISS after autonomous landing fault

Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub stepped in after technical glitch on craft delivering three tonnes of crucial supplies

The Russian Progress 86 cargo ship approaches the International Space Station during docking operations. Photo: Nasa
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Cosmonauts had to manually dock a Russian cargo spacecraft with the International Space Station after it suffered a technical glitch with its autonomous rendezvous system.

The unpiloted Progress 86 craft attempted a docking on December 3 using its autonomous feature which utilises a series of orbital maneouvers to help it align with the space station.

A live stream by Nasa showed Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub using a remote control from inside the ISS to help with the docking.

"They will be taking over docking using the using the TORU system, which is the telerobotically operated rendezvous unit, in place of the radar core system on Progress," the broadcaster in the live stream said.

"During a fly around, the Progress vehicle started drifting away from the expected attitude (orientation) and was not aligned with the docking target and the crew on board took manual control."

The ship successfully docked with the station's Poisk module at 3.18pm, UAE time.

It delivered almost three tonnes of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 70 crew.

Earlier this year, the Progress 82 craft experienced a coolant leak while parked at the station.

After it landed back on Earth, Roscosmos said that it had carried out an investigation and that the leak was caused by "external factors" and not because of a manufacturing defect.

The Soyuz, which cosmonauts use to launch in, also has an autonomous feature, which is usually used in case of emergencies.

Last year, a Soyuz capsule also suffered a coolant leak, which caused a Nasa astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts to be stranded on the station.

A rescue Soyuz craft was sent to help the men get home. They landed back in September.

Updated: December 04, 2023, 10:05 AM