Space station receives latest Russian resupply ship
BY JUSTIN RAY
Posted: February 13, 2009
A Russian cargo freighter safely docked to the international space station early this morning, delivering more than two tons of supplies and equipment for the outpost and its resident crew.
"Mechanical capture underway. Progress has arrived at the international space station," NASA commentator Rob Navias announced from Houston's Mission Control Center.
Hooks and latches then engaged to firmly secure the 24-foot-long craft to the station.
The Progress was launched Tuesday atop a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, reaching a preliminary orbit of 155 by 120 miles. A series of precise engine firings over the past few days guided the freighter toward this morning's rendezvous.
A half-hour before docking, external video cameras on the station spotted the freighter's headlight shining in the orbital night. Soon thereafter, the two craft saw a space sunrise and the Progress began a flyaround maneuver to get lined up with the docking port.
After briefly stationkeeping about 375 feet directly beneath the Pirs module, Russian flight controllers gave approval to commence the 8-minute final approach. The ship's automated docking system did its job and drove the craft to the linkup.
It is the 32nd Progress to dock with the station over its decade-long life and the first of five scheduled this year.
Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke, Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and NASA astronaut Sandy Magnus plan to open hatches and enter the Progress around 5:30 a.m. EST.
The cargo includes 2,866 pounds of equipment, food, clothing, life support system gear and a new Orlan spacewalking suit, some 110 pounds of oxygen and air for the station's atmosphere and 1,918 pounds of propellant to replenish reservoirs that feed the Russian maneuvering thrusters.
"The crew of Expedition 18 would like to congratulate our Russian partners for yet another successful Progress docking. We depend on the Progress for resupply," Fincke radioed.