Sunday, July 5, 2015

Christmas in July: Russian Progress M-28M Cargo Craft Arrives at Space Station

Progress M-28M spacecraft approaching the ISS. Credit: NASA

Traveling about 251 miles over the south Pacific, southeast of New Zealand, the unpiloted Progress M-28M Russian cargo ship docked today at 3:11 a.m. EDT to the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station (ISS). "The operation was carried out in an automated mode," the Russian Mission Control said. The Progress cargo ship was successfully launched into the designated orbit just nine minutes after it was launched aboard a Soyuz-U carrier rocket that blasted off from the Baikonur space station in Kazakhstan at 07:56 Moscow time (04:56 GMT) on July 3.

The craft is delivering more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies, including 1,940 pounds of propellant, 106 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water, and 3,133 pounds of spare parts, supplies and experiment hardware for the members of the Expedition 44 crew currently living and working in space. Progress is scheduled to remain docked to Pirs for the next four months.

Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko controlled the docking process.

"Guys, congratulations. your cargo vehicle has arrived," Russian flight director Vladimir Solovyev radioed from the Russian mission control center near Moscow.

"We congratulate you as well," Padalka replied from inside the station's Zvezda command module. "Thanks so much for sending it our way. ... It feels like Christmas in July."

This is the first Progress cargo ship to dock with the ISS since February. Over this time, only a US Dragon space freighter that blasted off in April visited the world’s sole orbiter.

Over the past two months, two cargo space ships have failed to reach the ISS and deliver the necessary supplies.

Late in April, Roscosmos lost a Progress-M-27M space freighter with about 2.5 tons of cargoes. On June 28, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded just minutes after liftoff from Cape Canaveral in Florida. A Dragon space freighter aboard the Falcon 9 rocket was intended to deliver about 2 tons of supplies to the ISS.

"The third time's the charm as they say!" NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted. "Great news."

With the successful docking of the Progress M-28M spacecraft, and assuming a Japanese HTV freighter arrives on schedule in August, the lab crew should be sufficiently stocked through the end of the year.


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