Fresh Russian Cargo Ship Docks at ISS
The Progress 22 spacecraft (right)is seen docked at the Pirs docking compartment of the ISS on June 26, 2006.
Credit: NASA TV.

Two astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) welcomed the Monday arrival of a Russian cargo ship packed with fresh food, equipment and other supplies for their orbital laboratory.

ISS Expedition 13 commander Pavel Vinogradov and flight engineer Jeffrey Williams watched as the unmanned supply ship Progress 22 docked at space station a full six minutes earlier than expected after two days of orbital flight. The cargo ship moored itself to the station's Russian-built Pirs docking compartment at 12:25 p.m. EDT (1625 GMT), NASA officials said.

"It approached beautifully," Vinogradov told Russian ISS flight controllers after the successful docking, which occurred as the station passed over Northern Africa. "Everything is fine, working hard."

Progress 22 delivered more than 2.5 tons of supplies for the Expedition 13 astronauts and their Expedition 14 successors, who are expected to arrive in mid-September.

Tucked inside the unmanned spacecraft's cargo hold are nearly 2,859 pounds (1,296 kilograms) of food, tools, new equipment and other dry cargo. About 250 pounds (113 kilograms) of water, 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of air and oxygen, and 1,900 pounds (861 kilograms) of ISS propellant are also packed aboard Progress 22, NASA said.

Vinogradov and Williams are expected to only partially empty Progress 22 this week, leaving its least critical cargo stowed as the two station astronauts prepare to receive their first human visitors - the seven astronauts of NASA's STS-121 mission - slated to launch toward the ISS in five days.

NASA's STS-121 crew, commanded by shuttle veteran Steven Lindsey, is scheduled to arrive at the ISS aboard the Discovery orbiter on July 3 with their own cargo pod full of new tools and equipment for the ISS. The shuttle will also ferry European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Reiter to the ISS, where he will join the Expedition 13 crew as its third member.

ISS crews have been limited to two astronauts since the 2003 Columbia accident.

With Progress 22's successful docking, three Russian spacecraft are now moored to the ISS. An earlier cargo ship Progress 21, which arrived in April, sits at the aft end of the space station's Zvezda service module, while the Soyuz spacecraft that ferried the Expedition 13 crew to the ISS is berthed at a port on the laboratory's Zarya control module.

Meanwhile, the space station's U.S. docking port remains free for the shuttle Discovery's arrival next week.