An unmannedRussian cargo ship cast off from the International Space Station (ISS)Wednesday on a mission to destroy itself as the orbital laboratory makes wayfor an incoming delivery.
Packed withtrash and unneeded equipment, the Progress 24 supply ship undockedfrom the space station at about 10:07 a.m. EDT (1407 GMT) as bothspacecraft orbited over eastern China, NASA officials said.
ISSExpedition 15 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineers Oleg Kotov andClayton Anderson jettisoned the disposable space freighter to prepare for theAug. 5 arrival of more than 2.5 tons of fresh cargo aboard a new, Russian-builtProgress 26 spacecraft.
Progress 26is slated to launch spaceward atop a Russian Soyuz rocket on Thursday at 1:34p.m. EDT (1734 GMT) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA and Russia'sFederal Space Agency expect the autonomous cargo ship to rendezvous with theISS on Sunday to deliver some 5,111 pounds (2,318 kilograms) of fresh water,oxygen and other vital supplies to the station?s three-astronaut crew. TheSoyuz rocket rolledout to its launch pad on Tuesday, NASA said.
Meanwhile,Progress 24 is destined for a fiery destruction in the Earth?s atmosphere. Thecargo ship firstarrived at the ISS in January, where it docked at the Russian-built Pirsdocking compartment. The spacecraft's Wednesday departure left behind itsimmediate successor, Progress 25, and the Russian-built Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraftstill berthed at the orbital laboratory.
Progress 24is due to fire its rocket engines at 2:40 p.m. EDT (1840 GMT) and burn up atabout 3:14 p.m. EDT (1914 GMT), NASA said.
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