Image to left: An unpiloted Russian Progress resupply vehicle against the black backdrop of space.
Supply Ship Blasts Off For Space Station
An unpiloted Russian Progress vehicle successfully blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Thursday night to deliver almost three tons of food, fuel, water, and supplies to the residents of the International Space Station.
The Progress 12 craft lifted off right on time from its Central Asian launch pad at 8:48 p.m. CDT (0148 GMT Aug. 29) as the Space Station sailed over the south Atlantic Ocean east of South America at an altitude of 240 statute miles. Less than 10 minutes later, the Progress settled into its preliminary orbit and its solar arrays and navigational antennas were successfully deployed.
Aboard the Station, Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu were already asleep as the Progress climbed to orbit.
The new Progress is the second cargo ship to take supplies to the Expedition 7 crew and is scheduled to dock to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on Saturday night at 10:45 p.m. CDT (0345 GMT Aug. 31). Another Progress ship that arrived at the Station in February during Expedition 6 filled with trash was undocked Tuesday and commanded to deorbit, burning up in the Earth's atmosphere.
Progress 12 is loaded with supplies for Malenchenko and Lu and science gear for European Space Agency, or ESA, Astronaut Pedro Duque of Spain, who is set to launch October 18 from Baikonur on the Soyuz TMA-3 craft with Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale and Expedition 8 Soyuz Commander and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri. Duque will spend eight days aboard the Space Station conducting science experiments under a commercial contract between ESA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. Duque will return to Earth on Oct. 28 with Malenchenko and Lu.
Among the supplies aboard the Progress is a satellite phone and Global Positioning System locator hardware, which Malenchenko, Lu and Duque would use in the unlikely event they land off-course, as did the Expedition Six crew back in May.
The new Progress also carries personal items and hardware for Foale and Kaleri, who are scheduled to spend almost 200 days aboard the Space Station.
Another Progress vehicle currently docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment will undock from the International Space Station on Sept. 4 to clear the way for the arrival of Foale, Kaleri and Duque in the Soyuz TMA-3 on Oct. 20.