Acargo ship docked at the International Space Station (ISS) fired its engine Wednesday,raising the space research platform into a higher orbit to prepare for thearrival of two spacecraft in upcoming months.
Theunmanned Progress 17 spacecraft, a supply ship that dockedat the ISS on March 2, fired its engines at 10:27 a.m. EDT (1427 GMT) to boostthe space station 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) further from Earth into an orbitthat reaches 226 miles (363 kilometers) at its highest point, NASA officialssaid.
Theorbital boost prepared the ISS for the June docking of Progress 18, the nextRussian cargo ship to deliver space station equipment and supplies, as well asthe expected July arrival of the space shuttle Discovery and its STS-114 crew.
Scheduledto launch no earlier than July 13, the STS-114 mission is set to be NASA'sfirst space shuttle to launch since the 2003 Columbia disaster, which killedseven astronauts and destroyed their spacecraft during reentry on Feb. 1, 2003.The 12-day flight, commanded by NASA veteran Eileen Collins, will dock with theISS and deliver the Raffaello cargo module, which has already been packedwith 2,600 pounds (1,170 kilograms) of tools, food, science equipment and othersupplies. The spaceflight will also clear out much of the trash and unneededequipment currently accumulating aboard the ISS.
Duringthe reboost maneuver, ISS Expedition 11 flightengineer John Phillips positioned video cameras to observe the station's solarpanel arrays and other external components to monitor if they bend and flex inresponse to the motion. Phillips and Expedition 11 commander Sergei Krikalev have lived aboardthe ISS since their arrivalon April 17. They are currently serving a six-month mission aboard the station,which they hope will see the arrival of both the Discovery shuttle and itsfollow-up flight STS-121 aboard the Atlantis orbiter. ISS officials also planto launch European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter to join the ISS crewduring the STS-121 mission.
- Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 11