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Progress Docks to Space Station
A new Progress cargo carrier docked to the International Space Station's Pirs docking compartment at 3:14 a.m. EST Wednesday with almost 2.5 tons of fuel, air, water and other supplies and equipment aboard.

JSC2007-E-113507 : International Space Station as of Dec. 26 Image to right:Computer-generated artist's rendering of the International Space Station as of Dec. 26, 2007. Progress 27 resupply vehicle docks to the Pirs Docking Compartment. Soyuz 15 (TMA-11) remains docked to the Zarya nadir port. Image credit: NASA

The station's 27th Progress unpiloted spacecraft brings to the orbiting laboratory more than 1,900 pounds of propellant, more than 100 pounds of oxygen and 2,921 pounds of dry cargo. Total cargo weight is 4,949 pounds.

P27 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 2:12 a.m. EST. It replaces the trash-filled P26 which was undocked from Pirs Friday. P26 will be deorbited for destruction on re-entry in mid-January, after conducting Earth observation experiments.

The spacecraft used the automated Kurs system to dock to the station. Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko was at the manual TORU docking system controls, should his intervention have become necessary.

Once Expedition 16 crew members, Malenchenko, Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Dan Tani, have unloaded the cargo, P27 will be filled with trash and station discards. It will be undocked from the station and like its predecessor deorbited to burn in the Earth's atmosphere.

The Progress is similar in appearance and some design elements to the Soyuz spacecraft, which brings crew members 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.