Three days after launching on its Soyuz booster rocket, the Russian ISS Progress 45 cargo ship docked to the International Space Station on Nov. 2, 2011, delivering almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies. This is great news for the Space Station program, as the successful launch and today’s efficacious docking certainly bodes well for the resumption of crewed flights to the ISS, diminishing the prospect for having the ISS unmanned. Soyuz rocket launches were halted for almost 2 months after the unexpected failure and loss of the Progress 44 vehicle in August. Today, the unmanned Progress automatically linked up to the Pirs Docking Compartment on the Russian segment and the crew will soon begin unloading the supplies.
Today is also historic for the ISS program, as 11 years ago today the first expedition crew launched to the ISS.
Next up will be the important launch of the next crew for the ISS on Nov. 13. NASA’s Dan Burbank and Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin will arrive at the station Nov. 16, joining NASA’s Mike Fossum, Russia’s Sergei Volkov and Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa for about six days before Fossum, Volkov and Furukawa return home.
“After the accident during the launch of a Progress cargo vehicle a couple of months ago, there’s been some uncertainty in the program,” Fossum said. “We’ve gone through a lot of work, the teams around the world, mostly in Russia, of course, have been involved with investigating the accident, trying to determine the root cause. We’re very happy and this is a really huge step.”
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.