A Progress M1-5 tanker was launched successfully from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz U booster on 24 January on its mission to de-orbit the Mir space station.

The Progress was due to arrive at Mir on 27 January and a series of engine burns in early March will end with the controlled re-entry of the space station on 6 March.

Russian space officials say that a failure to restart the 12 gyrodyne stabilisation gyroscopes on Mir will not affect the docking of the Progress. The station has enough propellant for thruster-induced stabilisation.

If the tanker fails to dock, an emergency Soyuz TM crew will be launched to board Mir and manually dock the Progress using the Toru system. The Soyuz TM and its booster are on standby at Baikonur. One other completed Progress M tanker is also available for launch if required. Even without the Progress, Mir will remain stable until April, according to Russian officials.

Source: Flight International