Progress supply ship docks with the International Space Station

The Progress MS-02 supply craft approaches the International Space Station on Saturday. Credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now
The Progress MS-02 supply craft approaches the International Space Station on Saturday. Credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now

A Russian refueling and resupply freighter docked with the International Space Station on Saturday after a two-day pursuit with maneuvering propellants, food and provisions for the research lab’s crew.

The Progress MS-02 supply ship, flying with upgrades to its command and control and navigation systems, sailed to an automated linkup with the space station’s Zvezda service module at 1758 GMT (1:58 p.m. EDT) Saturday as the vehicles flew more than 250 miles over Astana, Kazakhstan.

Five minutes later, hooks and latches engaged to create a firm connection between the Zvezda module’s aft docking port and the Progress spacecraft.

Veteran Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko planned to open hatches leading to the newly-arrived Progress spacecraft later Saturday to begin unpacking 3,126 pounds (1,418 kilograms) of dry cargo stowed inside the ship’s pressurized compartment.

That includes 762 pounds (346 kilograms) of sanitary supplies and waste containers, 729 pounds (331 kilograms) of food rations, and packages of towels, napkins, clothing, water filters, air filters, batteries, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, medical gear, maintenance tools, scientific experiments, and a nanosatellite that will be deployed by hand on a future Russian spacewalk.

The Progress MS-02 logistics carrier also delivered 1,940 pounds (880 kilograms) of rocket fuel, some of which the cargo craft will use to steer the space station away from space junk and maintain its orbit. About 1,190 pounds (540 kilograms) of the maneuvering propellant will be pumped inside tanks aboard the Zvezda module.

Tanks inside the cargo capsule also took 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of fresh water and 103 pounds (47 kilograms) of oxygen and air to the space station.

The cargo mission, known as Progress 63P in the space station’s manifest of visiting vehicles, is the second of three resupply flights scheduled to reach the complex in a 15-day span, collectively delivering more than 10 tons of equipment to the outpost.

A commercial Cygnus supply ship owned and operated by Orbital ATK arrived March 26 with about 7,745 pounds (3,513 kilograms) of provisions and experiments.

A SpaceX Dragon cargo mission is set for launch April 8 and will rendezvous with the space station two days later with about 6,913 pounds (3,136 kilograms) of equipment, including an inflatable module made by Bigelow Aerospace to test technologies for future expandable space habitats.

The Progress MS-02 spaceship that docked Saturday is the second upgraded Progress cargo craft to fly, testing out changes set to debut on Russia’s Soyuz crew capsule with a launch in June.

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