December 9, 2019

Progress cargo craft to launch space station supplies Saturday


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A Russian automated cargo craft loaded with nearly three tons of fuel, supplies, water and air is set for launch from Kazakhstan on Saturday on a mission to replenish stockpiles aboard the International Space Station.

The Progress MS-03 spaceship is scheduled to blast off at 2141:46 GMT (5:41:46 p.m. EDT) Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, embarking on a two-day journey to the space station that will conclude with docking with the research lab’s Pirs module at 0022 GMT Tuesday (8:22 p.m. EDT Monday).

Russian rocket technicians rolled out the cargo craft’s Soyuz-U booster to its launch pad Friday. Hydraulics lifted the rocket vertical and access gantries enclosed the Soyuz for final preflight checks.

Kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants will be pumped into the three-stage rocket in the final hours before Saturday’s launch.

The Progress MS-03 spacecraft will carry more than 2.4 metric tons — about 5,302 pounds — of cargo to the space station.

Here is a breakdown of the cargo manifest provided by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency:

  • 2,712 pounds (1,230 kilograms) of dry cargo
  • 1,554 pounds (705 kilograms) of rocket propellant to refuel the station
  • 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of water
  • 110 pounds (50 kilograms) of air and oxygen

Rocket propellant allocated to the Progress cargo craft’s own engines is not included in the above tally.

Items in the Progress spacecraft’s pressurized compartment include 701 pounds (318 kilograms) of food rations, solid waste containers and other sanitary equipment, personal hygiene and medical gear, hardware for the Russian segment’s power and thermal control systems, maintenance tools and experiments.

The cargo package published by Roscosmos also includes about 48 pounds (22 kilograms) of supplies for NASA.

The Progress MS-03 spacecraft, known as Progress 64P in the space station’s manifest of visiting vehicles, is the third in the latest generation of Russian supply ships with¬†multiple upgrades to navigation and communications systems.

The Progress MS-01 cargo craft descends to a destructive re-entry over the South Pacific Ocean on July 3 in this view captured by a crew member on the International Space Station. Its departure freed a space station docking port for the arrival of Progress MS-03. Photo credit: Roscosmos
The Progress MS-01 cargo craft descends to a destructive re-entry over the South Pacific Ocean on July 3 in this view captured by a crew member on the International Space Station. Its departure freed a space station docking port for the arrival of Progress MS-03. Photo credit: Roscosmos

The new resupply freighter takes the place of the Progress MS-01 cargo vehicle, which departed the space station’s Pirs docking port July 3, Moscow time, and headed for a destructive re-entry over the South Pacific Ocean, discarding several tons of trash in its fiery finale.

Less than two days after the Progress MS-03 spaceship’s launch, another supply craft is due to lift off from Cape Canaveral with more cargo.

SpaceX’s Dragon logistics vehicle is set for launch at 0445 GMT (12:45 a.m. EDT) Monday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, with its arrival at the space station expected around 1100 GMT (7 a.m. EDT) Wednesday.

Photos of the Soyuz rocket’s rollout Friday are posted below.

Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos
Photo credit: Roscosmos

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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