An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched into space early Tuesday carrying a fresh load of coffee, chocolate and other vital supplies for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The automated space freighter Progress 32 lifted off atop a Russian-built Soyuz rocket at 12:49 a.m. EST (0549 GMT) from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Packed aboard the disposable spaceship are nearly 2 1/2 tons of traditional supplies like clothes, fresh fruit and equipment, as well as some special requests for the space station?s crew.
?Of course chocolate,? space station flight engineer Sandra Magnus, an admitted chocolate fan, told SPACE.com in an interview last week via a space-to-ground link. ?Coffee. The boys like to drink coffee, so we asked for some of that as well.?
Magnus and station commander Michael Fincke, both of NASA, said they and fellow crewmate Yury Lonchakov of Russia were eagerly looking forward to Progress 32?s arrival on Friday.
Progress 32 is due to arrive at the space station at 2:19 a.m. EST (0719 GMT) on Friday morning, when it docks at an Earth-facing berth on the outpost?s Russian-built Pirs docking compartment. Packed aboard the spacecraft are more than 1,910 pounds (866 kg) of propellant for the space station?s engines, 110 pounds (50 kg) of oxygen and air for its astronaut crew, as well as 2,860 pounds (1,297 kg) of dry cargo, such as food, clothing, experiment hardware and other supplies. The spacecraft is also reportedly carrying a new Russian-built spacesuit, according to Russian wire reports.
Progress 32 replaces the older Progress 31 cargo ship, which launched to the space station last November and undocked last week to ultimately burn up in the Earth?s atmosphere in a fiery disposal on Sunday.
The Russian Federal Space Agency?s Progress cargo ships are similar in appearance to the agency?s crew-carrying Soyuz TMA spacecraft. Both have three modules, one of which is a propulsion and instrumentation section. But instead of a crew capsule and orbital module, which take the top two spots on Soyuz vehicles, Progress ships have a propellant tank to refuel the space station in the center and a cargo-packed orbital module on top.
Also known as Progress M-66, the Progress 32 cargo ship is Russia?s second to last space freighter in the 300 series that uses an older analog control system, according to Russian wire reports. The spacecraft is due to be replaced with the updated 400 series, which features a new onboard computer and telemetry systems, they added.
NASA will broadcast the docking of Progress 32 at the International Space Station live on NASA TV on Friday beginning at 1:30 a.m. EST (0630 GMT). Click here for a link to SPACE.com?s live NASA TV feed and space station mission updates.
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