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New Progress Docks With Station
An unpiloted Progress cargo craft docked with the International Space Station at 10:42 a.m. EDT Saturday with a cargo of supplies, equipment and fuel for the International Space Station.

The new cargo carrier is the 19th unpiloted Progress cargo vehicle to dock at the International Space Station. It will be a breath of fresh air, in several senses.

Among the cargo carrier's more than 2.6 tons of cargo is a new liquids unit for the Russian Elektron oxygen generator. The unit has been out of operation since late May.

Progress cargo spacecraft Image to right: A Russian Progress cargo spacecraft. Credit: NASA

The crew has relied on Solid Fuel Oxygen Generator (SFOG) "candles" and oxygen from Progress and Station tanks to replenish the orbiting laboratory's atmosphere. The Elektron uses water as a raw material, dividing it into hydrogen, which is vented overboard, and oxygen.

Progress 19 has been fitted with 14 extra tanks. They enable it to carry an additional 132 pounds of oxygen and air, for a total of just over 242 pounds. Also aboard are 16 new SFOGs.

Total P19 cargo weight is just over 5,175 pounds. That includes 1,760 pounds of propellant for attitude control thrusters, more than 52 gallons of water and about 2,700 pounds of dry cargo.

That dry cargo consists of equipment and supplies, experiment hardware, spare parts for the Russian Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal system and food. That food is one reason a Progress arrival is a happy occasion, despite the hard work involved in unloading and stowing cargo items.

Fresh food is especially welcome after months in orbit.

The Progress is similar in appearance and some design elements to the Soyuz spacecraft, which brings three crewmembers to the Station, serves as a lifeboat while they are there and returns them to Earth. 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.

Progress 19 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:08 a.m. Thursday. The previous cargo craft, Progress 18, was undocked from the Station Wednesday at 6:26 a.m. EDT. Russian flight controllers commanded it to deorbit. It burned in the Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific with its cargo of trash less than four hours later.