Russia launches Progress spacecraft to resupply Space Station

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

An earlier Progress spacecraft seen from the ISS.

At 20:22:54 GMT yesterday evening, a Russian Soyuz-U carrier rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 1/5 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and successfully placed a Progress spacecraft into low Earth orbit. The spacecraft, designated Progress M-64 and 29P, is flying to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). Following a series of manoeuvres, it is expected to dock with the Space Station's Zarya module at 21:36 GMT tomorrow evening.

Progress spacecraft are launched every few months to deliver new supplies to the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the Station. The current crew aboard the ISS are Russians Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, and American Garrett Reisman, who make up Expedition 17. The next manned launch to the Station is planned to occur at the end of the month, when Space Shuttle Endeavour will launch on mission STS-124 with the main pressurised component of the Japanese Experiment Module.

The freighter is carrying 1300kg of dry cargo, 350kg of propellant, 30kg of oxygen and 20kg air for the life support system, and 420kg of water. This cargo will be removed from the Progress spacecraft, and replaced with waste. The spacecraft will undock, de-orbit, and be destroyed during controlled atmospheric re-entry in several months time.

This is the 23rd orbital launch of 2008, and the second Progress launch of the year. The next Progress launch is scheduled to occur in August.