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Recent ISS Cargo delivery via Progress ship was a failure, and it seems that Russian mission control lost the cargo ship completely.

Since Progress ship is basically the same design as Soyuz:

What are the procedures for unlikely event when you lost communication with the ground? Is it better for astronauts and cosmonauts to try to reach ISS manually or go to abort and land?

Assume both variants of "lost communication":

  1. Communication via radio is OK (you can hear the crew), but you cannot upload any commands to on-board computer

  2. Communication is completely silent. Crew does not have any chance of contacting the mission control, but the ship functions "normally" otherwise.

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    $\begingroup$ "Since Progress ship is basically the same design as Soyuz..." Not even close. That might be true for Soyuz launch vehicles they both use but Progress and Soyuz spacecraft are completely different. And even if they were exactly the same, the latter would still have one major difference in having crew aboard. If they couldn't dock with the station, for any reason, procedure would be to deorbit and land. If that required first despinning, then they would try to do that. If they couldn't communicate with the ground, they are still tracked and, unlike computers, can adjust to circumstances. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Apr 30 '15 at 9:11
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What are the procedures for unlikely event when you lost communication with the ground? Is it better for astronauts and cosmonauts to try to reach ISS manually or go to abort and land?

Back in the Apollo days, the astronauts would always have a "PAD" read up to them, hours or even days before any major manoeuvre. For any burn, the ground would read up to them the angles to point the ship, the precise timing and thrust setting (if appropriate). The astronauts would write this down on paper.

That way, if communication was lost, they would always be able to execute the velocity change well enough to carry on.

For present flights to the ISS in low earth orbit, they would launch with all of the required burns known in advance, and I guess they would be able to make their own way if necessary provided the launch went as planned.

(Note however, loss of communication is a different problem to the case of a vehicle spinning out of control, as is happening with the unmanned Progress vehicle.)

EDIT: "PAD", from http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/apollo.glossary.html :

Preliminary Advisory Data: the crew had pre-printed forms on which they could write lift-off times and other data they would need in the event that communications was lost with Houston. Before and after each rest period, the CapCom would read up a list of lift-off times covering the next 10 to 12 hours and, prior to launch, a longer list of data was read up.

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  • $\begingroup$ If the vehicle were to spin out of control the pilot would surely flip to manual control. Perhaps the Russians just aren't like us and the booster can't be controlled like that, but the Soyuz itself can be. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Feb 15 '18 at 22:58

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