Russian Cargo Spacecraft Will Launch to Space Station Early Friday

Russia's Progress 60 Cargo Spacecraft
Russia’s Progress 60 caro spacecraft is seen in its processing facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan being prepared for its July 3, 2015 launch. (Image credit: RSC-Energia)

A robotic Russian cargo vessel will try to buck a negative recent trend when it launches toward the International Space Station early Friday morning (July 3).

Russia's Progress 60 freighter is scheduled to blast off atop a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan at 12:55 a.m. EDT Friday (0455 GMT, 10:55 a.m. local time in Kazakhstan).

The launch comes just five days after SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket exploded less than 3 minutes into flight, ending the California-based company's seventh contracted cargo run to the orbiting lab for NASA — and about two months after the previous Progress freighter (Progress 59) fell back to Earth, victimized by a problem with its Soyuz booster.

Furthermore, Progress 60's flight is just eight months removed from the rocket explosion that scuttled Virginia-based Orbital ATK's third cargo mission to the space station this past October. (Like SpaceX, Virginia-based Orbital holds a billion-dollar resupply deal with NASA.)

So it's safe to say that people in the aerospace industry and the human-spaceflight community will be watching Friday's launch from Baikonur pretty closely.

The spate of cargo-mission setbacks has not endangered astronauts aboard the $100 billion orbiting complex. Crewmembers have enough supplies to last through October as things currently stand, NASA officials have said.

Progress 60 will give the astronauts and their controllers here on Earth a little more breathing room, if everything goes according to plan.

"The Progress is loaded with 1,940 pounds [880 kilograms] of propellant, 106 pounds [48 kg] of oxygen, 926 pounds [420 kg] of water and 3,133 pounds [1,420 kg] of food, spare parts, logistical items and experiment hardware," NASA officials wrote in an update Tuesday (June 30).

The freighter is scheduled to arrive at the space station at about 3 a.m. EDT (0700 GMT) on Sunday (July 5).

The space station is currently home to cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. Kornienko and Kelly are about three months into an unprecedented yearlong mission aboard the orbiting lab.

Three more space fliers will join this trio soon: cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA's Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui of Japan are slated to launch toward the station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft on July 22.

Another robotic cargo mission will blast off shortly thereafter: Japan's fifth H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is set to launch in mid-August.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.