An unpiloted Russian cargo ship blasted off this morning from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a three-day journey to deliver almost three tons of food, fuel, oxygen, water and supplies to the residents of the International Space Station.
The ISS Progress 15 craft lifted off on time from the Central Asian launch site at 12:03 a.m. CDT (503 GMT), and less than 10 minutes later settled into orbit. Moments after that, automatic commands deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas.
As the Progress launched, Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer and NASA Science Officer Mike Fincke were asleep. The Station was flying just to the southwest of Baikonur at an altitude of 230 statute miles at the time of launch.
Two engine firings were scheduled overnight to raise and refine the Progress’ orbit and its path to the ISS for an automated docking Saturday morning at 12:02 a.m. CDT (502 GMT) at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module. The Progress is loaded with 1521 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air to replenish the Station’s atmosphere, 926 pounds of water and more than 3000 pounds of spare parts, life support system components and experiment hardware.
Among the spare parts launched today to the Station are new pumps for the U.S. spacesuits onboard that experienced cooling problems in early June while being prepared for a spacewalk to repair a failed power controller. The suits are undergoing troubleshooting in the hope they can be placed back into service in the near future. The repair spacewalk was eventually conducted in Russian Orlan spacesuits on June 30.
Also on the Progress are clothing articles for the next residents that will occupy the Station. Expedition 10 Commander and NASA Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov are scheduled to launch Oct. 9 on the Soyuz TMA-5 vehicle from Baikonur to begin a six-month stay on the complex, replacing Padalka and Fincke.
Information on the crew's activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at:
Details on Station science operations can be found on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:
The next ISS status report will be issued on Friday, August 13, or earlier, if events warrant.
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