Cargo Ship Docks with Space Station

Image credit: NASA

A Russian-built Progress cargo ship docked with the International Space Station on Tuesday, bringing food and supplies to the three-astronaut crew. Since the space shuttles have been grounded after the disaster, the astronauts will depend on these ships in the coming months. A manned flight is scheduled for April or May to relieve them.

A Russian Progress 10 resupply craft successfully docked to the International Space Station today, two days after it was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The cargo ship linked up to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at 8:49 a.m. CST (1449 GMT) following a flawless automated approach to the complex. The Progress is carrying a ton of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 6 crew on board the ISS. At the time of docking, the ISS was flying 240 statute miles over central Asia.

Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit monitored the docking of the Progress from inside the station in their 73rd day in space, their 71st day on board the orbital outpost.

The station crewmembers planned to open the hatch between Zvezda and the Progress around 1:00 p.m. CST (1900 GMT) following leak checks between the two craft, but its supplies will not be unloaded until Wednesday morning. The successful arrival of the Progress assures that the three station residents will have plenty of supplies to continue their mission until late June or early July, if required.

Among the supplies in the new Progress are replacement parts for the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the Destiny laboratory, which experienced a power failure back in November and has been dormant during Expedition 6. Pettit plans to install the new parts and test the Glovebox Wednesday. If it works, the Glovebox will be used to support all of the experiments planned for this Expedition before the crew returns to Earth in March.

Bowersox, Budarin and Pettit will pay a private tribute on orbit today to Columbia?s astronauts. Station flight controllers will radio to the crew an audio feed from the memorial ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, which is being attended by President Bush and Mrs. Bush, and NASA Administrator Sean O?Keefe.

Original Source: NASA News Release