International Space Station receives resupply ship
BY SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: August 14, 2004
A three-ton shipment of supplies safely arrived at the International Space Station this morning as an unmanned Russian cargo ship made a fully automated rendezvous and docking to the orbiting outpost 225 miles above Earth.
"Contact and capture confirmed," NASA commentator Rob Navias announced from Houston's Mission Control Center. "A perfect approach and docking by the Progress 15 craft, now a part of the International Space Station."
The station's two-man crew, Expedition 9 commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Michael Fincke, are scheduled to open up the Progress later today and begin unloading bundles of food, equipment and experiments. Also packed aboard are replacement components for the U.S. and Russian life support systems and new cooling pumps for American spacewalk suits, plus clothing and materials for the next crew due to launch in October.
"You can imagine how happy we must feel. We are looking forward to all of the things inside, including all of the replacement gear and things like that," Fincke told CAPCOM astronaut Julie Payette in Mission Control shortly after the docking. "We are hoping we get a chance to work on the American spacesuits, the EMUs, to see if we can get those repaired. There is a lot of other neat stuff inside, too."
The freighter's cargo compartment carries 3,042 pounds of dry supplies and hardware. The ship's refueling compartment carries 1,521 pounds of propellant for the station's thrusters. About 926 pounds of potable water and 110 pounds of oxygen and air have been ferried on the ship.
This is the fifteenth resupply mission to the International Space Station, giving it the name Progress 15P in the station's assembly sequence.
The station is fully reliant upon the Russian Progress resupply ships until the U.S. space shuttle fleet returns to flight next spring. Today's docking was the sixth since the Columbia tragedy 18 months ago.
While the shuttles are grounded, the station Expedition crews were reduced from three to two crewmembers to lessen the amount of supplies needed in space.
The next Progress is expected in November.
In preparation for today's Progress arrival, the Expedition 9 crew spent time clearing room for the new supplies and setting up video cameras to monitor the rendezvous, Mission Control said. Padalka trained on the Russian telerobotically operated docking system that he would have used to manually guide the Progress to the linkup in the unlikely event the automated system failed.
This past week's science activities included using the advanced ultrasound equipment to gather more data about what ultrasound examinations of healthy crewmembers look like while in microgravity, NASA reported. The work is also verifying techniques developed for minimally trained people to conduct the examinations with the help from doctors in remote places, such as Mission Control, Houston in this instance.
The crew worked with a Russian experiment studying plasma-dust crystals and another studying the changes in body mass while in space. The crew also filled out dietary logs for two days to support the U.S. Biopsy experiment studying the effects of long-duration space flight on human skeletal muscle.
Regular maintenance was conducted on the ventilation system and periodic environmental samples were collected. The crew also participated in a Soyuz emergency evacuation drill.