Russian Cargo Ship Docks at International Space Station

An uncrewed Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station early Monday (Oct. 16) to deliver nearly 3 tons of fresh food, fuel and other supplies. 

The Progress 68 resupply ship linked up with the space station at 7:04 a.m. EDT (1104 GMT) as the two spacecraft sailed 252 miles (405 kilometers) over eastern China. The docking came two days after a Soyuz rocket launched the cargo craft Saturday (Oct. 14) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 

"The docking [culminated] a flawless two-day journey following the progress launch atop a Soyuz 2.1a booster on Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan," said NASA spokesman Rob Navias of the Johnson Space Center in Houston during live commentary. [How Russia's Progress Cargo Ships Work (Infographic)]

Progress 68 is carrying 5,946 lbs. (2,697 kilograms) of supplies for the space station's six-person Expedition 53 crew, NASA officials have said. Those supplies include: 2,976 lbs. (1,349 kg) of dry cargo like spare parts or science gear; 1,940 lbs. (879 kg) of propellant; 926 lbs. (420 kg) of water; 53 lbs. (24 kg) of air; and 51 lbs. (23 kg) of oxygen.

Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) initially attempted to launch Progress 68 on Thursday (Oct. 12) to test a novel flight profile that would take just 3.5 hours to reach the International Space Station. That launch try was aborted in the final minute due to an issue with the Soyuz rocket.

The launch was delayed until Saturday, forcing Progress 68 to shift to a more typical two-day rendezvous to the space station due to the orbital mechanics involved in reaching the orbiting laboratory, NASA officials said. 

Russia's Progress spacecraft is one of several robotic cargo ships that deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Japan's HTV-2 Transfer Vehicles, SpaceX's Dragon cargo ships and Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft are the others currently serving the orbiting lab.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. 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. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.