Resupply ship bound for the International Space Station

Posted: August 28, 2003

A fresh load of supplies -- from shoes to rocket fuel -- is headed for the International Space Station following Thursday night's successful launch of Russia's unmanned Progress cargo freighter atop a Soyuz rocket.

The Soyuz rocket with the Progess cargo ship blasts off. Credit: Energia
The three-stage launcher blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:48 p.m. EDT (0148 GMT) as the station flew 240 miles over the south Atlantic Ocean to the east of South America.

About nine minutes later, the cargo vessel was deployed into Earth orbit to begin its two-day journey to reach the station. Packed with nearly three tons of cargo, the freighter is the 12th launched by the Russians as part of the International Space Station program.

Progress M-48 spacecraft is carrying food, water, oxygen and gifts from home for the station's residents. The outpost is currently occupied by Expedition 7 -- Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA science officer Ed Lu.

The two men, aboard the station since April, were dispatched to the orbiting complex as "care takers" to keep it functioning while NASA's space shuttle fleet remains grounded by the Columbia tragedy.

A package is prepared for placement into the Progress during recent pre-launch preparations. Credit: Energia
With no shuttles flying until at least spring -- and possibly longer -- the Expedition 8 crew of American commander Michael Foale and Russian flight engineer Alexander Kaleri are preparing to launch aboard a Soyuz capsule in October to relieve Expedition 7.

The Progress is carrying shirts, sweaters, shorts, gloves, shoes and more for the Expedition 8 crew to wear during their tour-of-duty, plus dozens of American and Russian food containers.

In addition to the usual mix of parts and pieces for station hardware tucked inside every Progess, an Iridium satellite phone and Global Positioning System equipment are aboard for use when Expedition 7 returns to Earth in the Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft at the end of October.

During the TMA-1 landing in May, an internal glitch caused the capsule to switch into a ballistic entry mode. It landed hundreds of miles off course, leading to a long, tense search to find the craft and Expedition 6 crew.

Sharing the ride up to the station in October with Expedition 8 will be European Space Agency astronaut Pedro Duque. He will spend a week on the station conducting research before heading back to Earth along with Expedition 7. Some of his science experiments were launched on this Progress.

A technician loads cargo into the Progress ship before its launch. Credit: Energia
During the freighter's stay at the station, the Progress will transfer a large amount of its propellant into the Russian segment of the complex for use by onboard thrusters.

The Progress' docking to the Zvezda service module's aft port is scheduled for 11:45 p.m. EDT (0345 GMT) Saturday night.

That port was freed up one day ago when an old Progress was discarded to burn up in the atmosphere.

Russian patches
The cancelled Soviet space shuttle Buran is commemorated in this special cloth patch available from our store.

Story on stage
SIGNED COPIES! "A Space Story" DVD is a galactic journey with astronaut Story Musgrave visiting the Hubble Space Telescope, viewing Earth from Space, and reaching for the heavens. Get a signed copy while stocks last!