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Cargo Craft Departure Clears Station Port for Next Shipment
View of space station from Progress

A video camera on the departing ISS Progress 48 captured this view of the Russian segment of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

An unpiloted Russian Progress resupply ship departed Saturday from the International Space Station in preparation for the arrival of the next Progress craft Monday.

With the opening of the hooks and latches that held the ISS Progress 48 cargo craft to the station’s Pirs docking compartment for more than six months, the space freighter undocked from the complex at 8:15 a.m. EST. Three minutes later Progress 48 conducted its first separation burn to move itself a safe distance away from the station. A final deorbit burn about three hours later sent the trash-filled craft to its fiery demise as it re-entered the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean around noon.

› View video of undocking

Progress 48 delivered nearly three tons of supplies for the station crew when it arrived at the station on Aug. 1. Progress resupply ships are not designed to be recovered, so after the cargo is unloaded the crew refills them with trash and station discards for disposal. The cargo module can hold more than 3,700 pounds of trash.

Meanwhile at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the new ISS Progress 50 resupply vehicle rolled out Saturday from the integration facility to its launch pad at the Site 1 complex in the central Asian desert. Launch of the new Russian resupply ship is scheduled for 9:41 a.m. (8:41 p.m. Kazakhstan time) Monday. Progress 50 will deliver 764 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 3,000 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and logistics equipment --- 2.9 tons of supplies in all.

Like its two predecessors, Progress 50 is scheduled to launch into an accelerated, four-orbit rendezvous with the station, docking to the recently vacated Pirs only six hours after launch. If any technical issues arise, the Russian flight control team can default to a standard two-day rendezvous plan for the Progress that would result in docking on Wednesday.

NASA TV coverage of Monday’s launch begins at 9:30 a.m., and returns at 3 p.m. for the rendezvous and docking activities, with docking scheduled for 3:40 p.m.

› Watch NASA TV
› Read more about Progress