Spaceflight Now Home

Spaceflight Now +

Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus subscribers.

Science of New Horizons
The first robotic space mission to visit the distant planet Pluto and frozen objects in the Kuiper Belt is explained by the project's managers and scientists in this NASA news conference from the agency's Washington headquarters on Dec. 19.

 Dial-up | Broadband

Shuttle program update
Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations, discusses the latest space shuttle program news, including the decision to remove the PAL foam ramp from future external fuel tanks, during this December 15 teleconference with reporters.

 QuickTime | For iPod

Remembering Gemini 6
The Gemini 6 mission launched from the Cape at 8:37 a.m. December 15, 1965 to rendezvous with the orbiting Gemini 7 spacecraft. The rendezvous occurred and Gemini 6 safely returned to Earth.

 Play video

New views of icy moons
NASA's Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn is wrapping up a phenomenally successful year of observing the mysterious icy moons, including Enceladus, Dione, Rhea, Hyperion and Iapetus.

 Play video

First ISS spacewalkers
Mission Control remembers the spacewalking efforts by astronaut Jerry Ross and Jim Newman from this week in 1998. The duo worked to connect the first two pieces of the International Space Station -- the Russian-made Zarya control module and the U.S Unity node.

 Play video

Mars rover panoramas
New panoramas from NASA's long-lasting Mars Exploration Rovers show the view from the Columbia Hills where Spirit continues its adventure and the strange landscape at Meridiani Planum where Opportunity is driving southward.

 Spirit | Opportunity

Hubble Space Telescope
Scientists marvel at the achievements made by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope in this produced movie looking at the crown jewel observatory that has served as our window on the universe.

 Play video

Become a subscriber
More video

Cargo ship begins flight to the space station

Posted: December 21, 2005; Updated with launch

A supply ship bound for the International Space Station roared into orbit today, promising to give the outpost's two-man crew a delivery of fresh food, clothes, equipment and special holiday gifts just in time for Christmas.

The unpiloted Progress M-55 spacecraft launched as scheduled at 1:38 p.m. EST (1838 GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket was erected on the launch pad earlier this week. Credit: Energia
A three-stage Soyuz-U booster propelled the 24-foot long ship on a two-day, pre-scripted course that culminates with an autonomous linkup to the station's Pirs docking module at 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT) Friday.

The Russian-made Progress spacecraft, known in the station's assembly matrix as mission 20P, reached its preliminary orbit about nine minutes after liftoff and separated from the Soyuz rocket's spent third stage.

"It looks like we've got a nominally proceeding Progress launch," Mission Control-Houston radioed the space station crew shortly after the Soyuz rocket deployed the Progress.

"Excellent. Thank you," station commander Bill McArthur replied.

Onboard commands extended the Progress craft's two power-generating solar arrays that span 35 feet and unfurled communications and navigation antennas.

A series of precise engine firings over the next two days will guide the Progress into the station's orbit for the docking. The usual Progress parking spot at the station -- the Zvezda service module's aft port -- is occupied by the 19P freighter that Russian space officials opted to keep in place through March instead of discarding the vehicle as is typically done when a fresh resupply ship is launched. The decision allows the Progress time to transfer its remaining oxygen supply as needed and serve as a trash receptacle.

The new station-bound Progress is loaded with 5,683 pounds of supplies. The "dry" cargo amounts to 3,097 pounds in the form of spare parts, repair gear, life support and equipment hardware.

The refueling module carries 1,940 pounds of propellant for transfer into the Russian segment of the station to feed the outpost's maneuvering thrusters.

To replenish the station's oxygen supply, the Progress is bringing 183 pounds of oxygen and air. And the vessel has 463 pounds of water.

The Expedition 12 crewmembers -- commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev -- are three months into their planned half-year mission aboard the station. They will celebrate Christmas with a Russian-style menu.

The following timeline shows the key events scheduled from launch until docking for the Progress freighter:

Day 1 events - Wednesday

Event Mission Time Eastern TimeGMT
LAUNCH 0/00:00:00 1:38:18 p.m. 1838:18
Orbit Insertion 0/00:08:45 1:47:03 p.m. 1847:03
Maneuver DV1
(12.31 m/s)
0/03:37:20 5:15:38 p.m. 2215:38
Maneuver DV2
(26.03 m/s)
0/04:26:55 6:05:13 p.m. 2305:13

Day 2 events - Thursday

Event Mission Time Eastern TimeGMT
Maneuver DV3
(2.00 m/s)
1/00:48:27 2:26:45 p.m. 1926:45

Day 3 events - Friday

Event Mission Time Eastern TimeGMT
Start Automated
1/22:58:36 12:36:54 p.m. 1736:54
Station maneuver
to docking attitude
1/23:13:42 12:52:00 p.m. 1752:00
DV4 / Impulse 1
(19.681 m/s)
1/23:19:09 12:57:27 p.m. 1757:27
Progress Kurs-A
1/23:41:42 1:20:00 p.m. 1820:00
Zvezda Kurs-P
1/23:43:42 1:22:00 p.m. 1822:00
Impulse 2
(1.184 m/s)
1/23:43:43 1:22:01 p.m. 1822:01
DV5 / Impulse 3
(11.728 m/s)
2/00:05:33 1:43:51 p.m. 1843:51
TORU command
link activation
Range 9 km
2/00:36:56 2:15:14 p.m. 1915:14
Progress TV
Range 8 km
2/00:37:56 2:16:14 p.m. 1916:14
Impulse 4
(8.133 m/s)
2/00:45:43 2:24:01 p.m. 1924:01
Ballistic Targeting
2/00:48:36 2:26:54 p.m. 1926:54
Impulse 5
(4.988 m/s)
2/00:52:25 2:30:43 p.m. 1930:43
Impulse 6
(2.048 m/s)
2/00:54:29 2:32:47 p.m. 1932:47
Start flyaround
2/00:56:39 2:34:57 p.m. 1934:57
Start stationkeeping 2/01:05:39 2:43:57 p.m. 1943:57
Start final approach 2/01:06:42 2:45:00 p.m. 1945:00
DOCKING 2/01:15:42 2:54:00 p.m. 1954:00
Orbital sunset 2/01:18:03 2:56:21 p.m. 1956:21

Data source: NASA.