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New Russian Resupply Vehicle Docks to Station
ISS Progress 39 cargo craft

Image above: The ISS Progress 39 cargo craft approaches the International Space Station for docking. Credit: NASA TV

The 39th ISS Progress resupply vehicle automatically docked to the aft port of the Zvezda service module of the International Space Station at 7:58 a.m. EDT Sept. 12 using the Kurs automated rendezvous system.

Progress 39 brings to the orbiting complex 1,918 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen, 375 pounds of water and 2,645 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and other supplies for the station’s six crew members.

After conducting leak checks at the docking interface and opening the hatch to the resupply vehicle, the crew members began the long process of inventorying and unloading the cargo. Once emptied, Progress 39 will be filled with trash and station discards and deorbited to burn in the Earth’s atmosphere like its predecessors.

The ISS Progress 39 launched at 6:22 a.m. EDT Sept. 10 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Its launch was postponed Sept. 8 for 48 hours due to high winds at the launch pad.

The resupply vehicle that previously occupied Zvezda’s aft port, ISS Progress 38, was deorbited and sent to a fiery demise in the Earth’s atmosphere Sept. 6 after a week of thruster tests conducted by Russian flight controllers.

The newest supply ship joins three other Russian vehicles docked at the station, including the two Soyuz spacecraft, which carried the station’s current residents to the station and will return them to Earth, and the ISS Progress 37 resupply vehicle, which is scheduled to undock Oct. 26.

The Progress is similar in appearance and some design elements to the Soyuz spacecraft. The aft module, the instrumentation and propulsion module, is nearly identical.

But the second of the three Progress sections is a refueling module, and the third, uppermost as the Progress sits on the launch pad, is a cargo module. On the Soyuz, the descent module, where the crew is seated on launch and which returns them to Earth, is the middle module and the third is called the orbital module.