Russia's Mission Control starts increasing ISS orbit

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MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Mission Control near Moscow said Wednesday it had started an operation to widen the International Space Station's orbit by about three kilometers.

"By starting four [cargo vehicle Progress M-54] engines, which are to work for 793 seconds, the station will be given an impulse of 1.79 m per second, which we expect will raise the average orbital altitude of the ISS by approximately three kilometers," Mission Control said.

The operation began outside the reach of Russian tracking systems, so the results will only be visible at 9.50 Moscow time (6.50 GMT), a Mission Control expert said.

The orbit adjustment is needed to prepare the world's sole civilian space station for docking with the carrier rocket Soyuz TMA-8, which is to be launched from the Baikonur space station, which Russia leases from the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, on March 30.

Soyuz will bring the next crew to the orbital station, with Brazil's first astronaut, who will spend a week at the ISS.

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