Progress Cargo Ship Launches to Space Station

The Russian Progress 51 cargo craft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan April 24, at 12:12 UTC (6:12 am EDT) and is on its way to the International Space Station. Unlike its three predecessors, Progress 51 will take the typical two-day rendezvous instead of the new 6-hour fast-track to reach the ISS. This is because of the phasing and orbital mechanics associated with this launch date. The unpiloted Progress is scheduled to dock to the aft port of the station’s Zvezda Service Module on April 26; however a problem arose when a rendezvous antenna did not deploy, which may affect the docking.

The Progress made it safely to orbit and deployed its solar arrays as planned. But one of the five sets of KURS automated rendezvous antennas used as navigational aids did not deploy. Russian ground controllers are assessing the antenna, which is used to measure orientation of the Progress vehicle, and how to troubleshoot the problem. We’ll keep you posted if the docking time changes.

On board are more than three tons of food, fuel, supplies and experiment hardware for the ISS Expedition 35 crew.