Cargo freighter en route to International Space Station
BY SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: August 11, 2004
A resupply vessel filled with three tons of food, water, equipment and fuel began its three-day trek to the International Space Station today, blasting off aboard a Russian rocket.
Launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Central Asia occurred on schedule at 0503 GMT (1:03 a.m. EDT). Within nine minutes the cargo craft achieved into its initial orbit around Earth and was deployed from the unmanned Soyuz rocket.
At the time of launch, the station was flying southwest of Baikonur at an altitude of 230 statute miles.
The freighter is known in the station's assembly sequence as Progress 15P -- the fifteenth resupply mission to the outpost. It is called Progress M-50 by the Russians.
A fully automated docking to the aft port of the space station's Russian Zvezda service module is planned for Friday night/Saturday morning at 0502 GMT (1:02 a.m. EDT).
That docking port was vacated July 30 when the Progress 14P (M-49) undocked the station with a load of trash and unneeded equipment. Later, the freighter fired its engines to brake from orbit and plunged into the atmosphere where it burned up.
With the U.S. space shuttle fleet grounded until at least next spring, the International Space Station program is fully reliant upon the Russian Progress ships to keep the outpost stocked with supplies for its crews and propellant for the station's steering jets.
The station's current residents -- commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Michael Fincke -- are four months into a planned half-year voyage aboard the lab complex as the Expedition 9 crew.
This latest Progress carries 3,042 pounds of dry cargo, 926 pounds of water, 110 pounds of oxygen and air and 1,521 pounds of propellant.
In addition to the usual assortment of food, hardware and experiments, the dry cargo includes replacement components for the U.S. and Russian life support systems and new cooling pumps for American spacewalk suits. Also aboard are supplies and clothing for the Expedition 10 crew of commander Leroy Chiao and flight engineer Salizhan Sharipov. The two men are scheduled to ride a Soyuz capsule to the station in October, replacing Padalka and Fincke.
The following timeline shows the key events scheduled from launch until docking for the Progress freighter:
Day 1 events - Wednesday
Day 2 events - Thursday
Day 3 events - Friday/Saturday
Data source: NASA.