Astronauts aboardthe International Space Station (ISS) have a fresh supply of food, water andother vital supplies onboard after the flawless Sunday arrival of an unmannedRussian cargo ship.
The automatedsupply ship Progress 26 dockedat the space station at 2:40 p.m. EDT (1840 GMT) as both spacecraft flewhigh above central Europe.
?Contactconfirmed, we can see capture,? said Expedition 15 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin,a Russian cosmonaut who stood ready to take remote control of Progress 26should its automated docking systems fail.
ButProgress 26 did not require Yurchikhin?s help to dock at the station?sRussian-built Pirs docking compartment, and successfully delivered 2.5 tons offresh supplies to the station?s three-astronaut crew. The spacecraft launchedtowards the ISS Aug. 2 from the central Asian spaceport of BaikonurCosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Sundays andSaturdays are typically off-duty days for astronauts aboard the space station,but the Expedition 15 crew took Friday off to compensate for Progress 26?sweekend arrival, NASA officials said.
Yurchikhinand Expedition 15 flight engineers Oleg Kotov and Clayton Anderson are expectedto open the hatches between Progress 26 and the ISS at about 5:40 p.m. EDT(2140 GMT), but will not begin unloading the cargo ship until Monday, theyadded.
Freshsupplies, new computers
Tuckedaboard Progress 26 are 5,111 pounds (2,318 kilograms) of supplies that include:1,600 pounds (725 kilograms) of propellant, more than 100 pounds of oxygen andair, and over 496 pounds (224 kilograms) of water.
Thespacecraft is also carrying about 2,954 pounds (1,339 kilograms) of dry cargo suchas food, clothing, science equipment and spare parts. A set of new command andnavigation computers and other hardware is also included to replace thoseaboard the space station?s Russian-built Zvezda service module.
Zvezda?scurrent command and navigation computersystem crashed in June during NASA?s STS-117 construction mission to theISS. Yurchkhin and Kotov, a fellow Russian cosmonaut, later restored the vitalcomputers by installing jumper cables to bypass faulty hardware within them.
Thecosmonauts plan to replace the older computer system, along with a damagedelectronics box and corroded cables, during a days-long repair effort duringNASA?s STS-118 shuttle mission to the ISS. ??
Similar inappearance to the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that ferry astronauts to and fromthe ISS, unmanned Progress cargo ships regularly resupply the orbitallaboratory every few months. Progress vehicles are disposable, and arediscarded to burn up in the Earth?s atmosphere at the end of their flights.
?Thank youfor assisting us and for reliable technology,? Yurchikhin told flightcontrollers at the Russian Federal Space Agency?s Mission Control in Korolev,outside Moscow, after the docking.
Progress 26is moored to an ISS port that previously hosted the Progress 24 cargo shipbefore that spacecraft was discarded last week. Two other Russian vehicles, theunmanned Progress 25 spacecraft - which arrived in May - and the Expedition 15 crew?sSoyuz TMA-10vehicle, are also docked at the station?s Russian-built berths.
The Expedition15 crew will now turn its attention to the planned Aug. 8 launch and Friday arrivalof NASA?s STS-118 astronaut crew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.
Commandedby veteran spaceflyer Scott Kelly, Endeavour?s STS-118 astronauts plan todeliver still more cargo - about 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilograms) - to the ISSalong with spare parts and a new starboard section of the outpost?s main truss.
Endeavour?screw also includes educator-turned-astronautBarbara Morgan, who originally served as NASA?s backup to the first Teacherin Space Christa McAuliffe. McAuliffe and six NASA astronauts were aboard thespace shuttle Challenger when it broke apart just after launch in January 1986.
- VIDEO: Teaching the Future: Teacher-Astronaut Barbara Morgan
- SPACE.com Video Interplayer: Space Station Power Up with STS-117
- Complete Space Station Expedition Coverage