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Russian Cargo Ship En Route to Space Station

Russian Cargo Ship En Route to Space Station
A Progress 24 cargo ship launches towards the International Space Station atop A Russian Soyuz booster at 9:12 p.m. EST on Jan. 17. (Image credit: RSC Energia.)

An unmannedcargo ship carrying fresh supplies and the likeness of a Russian spacelegend rocketed spaceward late Wednesday to restock the International SpaceStation.

The Russian-builtProgress 24 cargo ship began the two-day trip to the ISS at 9:12 p.m. EST (0212Jan. 18 GMT) with a successful launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA officials said in a statement.

The supplyship is carrying more than 2.5 tons of cargo to the station's three-astronautExpedition 14 crew. Its flight follows the planned destruction of an older Russian spacecraft, Progress 22, that was jettisonedfrom the orbital laboratory on Tuesday [image].

Expedition14 commander MichaelLopez-Alegria and flight engineers MikhailTyurin and SunitaWilliams expect Progress 24 to dock at the space station's Russian-builtPirs docking compartment on Friday at 10:03 p.m. EST (0303 Jan. 20 GMT). NASAwill broadcast the supply ship's automated arrival live via NASA TV.

NASAspokesperson Lynette Madison told SPACE.com before today's launch thatthe Progress 24 spacecraft included some new spacewalk supplies tucked amid the3,285 pounds (1,490 kilograms) of dry cargo packed in its hold [image].The cargo ship is also hauling 110 pounds of oxygen and 1,720 pounds (780kilograms) of propellant to the ISS, as well as new, Japanese experimenthardware to aid a study in protein crystallization, Russia's Interfax NewsAgency has reported.

A portraitof SergeiKorolev -- who served as chief rocket designer for the former Soviet Unionand led the nation's efforts to launch the first artificial satellite (Sputnik) and thefirst human (YuriGagarin) into orbit, also rode into space during Progress 24's launch [image].

Engineers affixedthe image to the exterior of the spacecraft's Russian-built Soyuz rocket fairingto honor the 100thanniversary of the birth of Korolev, who died of a heart attack in 1966 atthe age of 59.

Progress 24will join an earlier unmanned cargo ship -- Progress23 -- at the ISS. That older supply ship arrivedlast fall and remains docked at the aft end of the station's Zvezda servicemodule.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.