Russian Cargo Ship Launches Toward Space Station
A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress 29 cargo ship stands poised for its May 14, 2008 launch toward the International Space Station from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
CREDIT: RSC Energia.
An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched into orbit Wednesday crammed with fresh supplies for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The Progress 29 space freighter successfully lifted off atop a Russian-built Soyuz rocket at 4:22 p.m. EDT (2022 GMT) from the central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin a two-day trek. The cargo ship is due to dock at the space station on Friday, where the outpost?s three-man crew is eagerly awaiting its arrival.
?The Progress 29 spacecraft is carrying to the crew the usual manifest of clothing, supplies and other cargo, which they are definitely looking forward to,? said NASA spokesperson Josh Byerly of the agency?s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The spacecraft launched on time and reached orbit 10 minutes later, NASA officials told SPACE.com. It is scheduled to dock at an Earth-facing port on the station?s Russian-built Zarya control module at about 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) on Friday.
Progress 29, known by the designation M-64 in Russia, is hauling more than two tons of supplies to the space station for Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineers Oleg Kononenko and Garrett Reisman. Tucked inside the spacecraft?s cargo hold are 770 pounds (350 kg) of propellant for the station?s thrusters, more than 100 pounds (45 kg) of oxygen and air, as well as 925 pounds (420 kg) of water, NASA officials said.
The spacecraft is also carrying about 2,850 pounds (1,292 kg) of dry supplies, which Russia?s Federal Space Agency has said includes about 568 pounds (258 kg) of food, 277 pounds (126 kg) of medicine and 282 pounds (128 kg) of hygiene items, according to the country?s Interfax News Agency.
A contingent of 90 snails is also making the trip to the space station as part of an experiment to study the effects of weightless on living organisms, Interfax reported.
In a televised interview earlier this week, Volkov said that he and his crew are looking forward to Progress 29?s arrival. He spent some of his time working with a remote docking system that would allow him to take control of the Progress freighter should its own automated rendezvous systems fail.
Russia?s disposable Progress cargo ships are similar in appearance to the country?s three-segment Soyuz spacecraft that ferry new astronaut crews to and from the space station every six months. But unlike the Soyuz, Progress freighters are ultimately filled with trash or other unneeded items and jettisoned to burn up in the Earth?s atmosphere at the end of their missions.
Volkov and his crew are also preparing for the early June arrival of NASA?s space shuttle Discovery, which is currently slated to dock June 2 to deliver a new Japanese laboratory the size of a school bus.
Discovery and its seven-astronaut crew are slated to launch toward the station on May 31.
NASA will provide live coverage of Progress 29?s space station arrival on NASA TV beginning at about 5:00 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT). Click here for SPACE.com?s space station mission updates, live coverage and NASA TV feed.
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