Progress cargo freighter docks with International Space Station

Credit: NASA TV

A Russian Progress supply ship sailed to an automated docking Friday with the International Space Station two days after departing the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, delivering approximately three tons of fuel, spare parts and water to the orbiting outpost and its three-person crew.

Docking of the Progress MS-06 cargo craft to the station’s Zvezda service module occurred 1137 GMT (7:37 a.m. EDT) after a radar-guided autopilot approach as the vehicles soared 258 miles (415 kilometers) over the Philippine Sea.

“Thank you very much for a reliable vehicle,” radioed Fyodor Yurchikhin, commander of the station’s Expedition 52 crew.

“I would say it was more than a gentle touch, more than anything else,” Yurchikhin said of the docking. “The cargo vehicle is now in a gentle but very firm embrace with the station now.”

Hooks closed to create a firm attachment between the space station and the newly-arrived Progress cargo craft, which is set to stay at the research complex until mid-December, when it will detach and head for a destructive re-entry with a load of trash over the South Pacific Ocean.

Yurchikhin will open hatches leading to the Progress spacecraft later Friday.

The station’s crew will unpack equipment inside the Progress MS-06 cargo capsule’s pressurized cabin in the coming weeks, and automated connections will route propellant from the Progress fuel tanks into reservoirs on the Zvezda service module.

The Progress MS-06 supply ship lifted off Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz-2.1a launcher, reaching orbit less than nine minutes after blastoff. The Progress began a series of thruster firings to guide its two-day journey to the space station, culminating in Friday’s final approach.

The Progress MS-06 spaceship carries around 6,039 pounds (2.7 metric tons) of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station, according to NASA.

The supplies include 3,069 pounds (1,392 kilograms) of dry cargo inside the ship’s pressurized compartment, 1,940 pounds (880 kilograms) of fuel to refill the station’s propulsion system, 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of potable water, and 104 pounds (47 kilograms) of high-pressure oxygen and air to replenish the research lab’s breathable atmosphere, a NASA spokesperson said.

Four small satellites launched inside the Progress MS-06 spacecraft’s cabin for release by cosmonauts on a spacewalk later this year.

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