With a ‘textbook’ launch, the Progress 46 resupply ship is now on its way to the International Space Station. The Progress launched Wednesday at 11:06 UTC (6:06 p.m. EST, 5:06 a.m. Baikonur time Thursday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Inside the vehicle are 2.9 tons of food, fuel and equipment. It will arrive at the ISS and hook up via automated docking with the Pirs docking compartment on 00:08 UTC on Saturday (Friday at 7:08 p.m. EST)
To make room for the new Progress, earlier this week , the Progress 45 undocked, deorbited and burned up in Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. It was loaded with trash and discarded gear, but also performed a special mission: it deployed the Chibis-M mini-satellite after undocking from the space station. The 88-pound Chibis-M will study plasma waves in the ionosphere for several years.
If all goes well, the ISS will have a busy traffic pattern in March. On March 9, the European ATV-3 “Edoardo Amaldi” cargo ship is scheduled to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, and is expected to dock on March 19.
In between, A Soyuz will undock on March 16, bringing home current station Commander Dan Burbank and Russian Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin.
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Later, and three new crew members — Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and Joseph Acaba — are scheduled to launch on March 29 and dock two days later to bring the station’s crew back to six.
And the launch of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, the first commercial ship to come to the space station, has now been tentatively pushed back to late March. Stay tuned for more details on that launch when it becomes available.
Meanwhile the current six-member crew continues science experiments and ongoing maintenance activities for the ISS.