MOSCOW, May 10 (Xinhua) -- A Russian space freighter has been undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) and started an automatic flight on Monday, said the Mission Control Center outside Moscow.
The three-minute undocking process was completed at 03:16 p.m. Moscow time (1116 GMT), when Progress M-04M deposited with space waste left the Zvezda service module of the space station.
"Progress M-04M has been undocked from the ISS and with the help of its on-board motor will go into a working orbit not far from the station," said a spokesman from the control center as cited by the RIA Novosti news agency.
The spacecraft, which had been porting at the space station since Feb. 5, would initiate a flight of two months in automatic mode, carrying out a scientific experiment, before plunging into the Pacific Ocean on July 1.
Mainly serving Russian armed forces, the geophysical experiment would study the reflective characteristics of the spacecraft's hull and the transparency of the Earth's atmosphere.
All Russian space cargo ships have been used to conduct scientific experiments after they undocked from the ISS ever since the second half of 2007, said the control center.
The Progress M-04M space freighter blasted off from the Kazakh Baikonur cosmodrome atop a Soyuz-U carrier rocket on Feb. 3, delivering some 2.5 tons of food, water, fuel, gifts, fruits, desserts, movie disks, books, magazines, and scientific equipment including a control system for the Poisk small scientific research module.
Currently three more spacecraft, including Soyuz TMA-17 and TMA-18 manned spaceships as well as Progress M-05M space freighter were porting at the ISS.
As the long-enduring backbone of Russian space cargo fleet, the Progress freighters are also used to correct the ISS orbit and conduct scientific experiments.
The new generation of Progress vehicles is lighter in weight and equipped with a modern digital control system, which enables the spacecraft to dock with the ISS more accurately.