Blastoff! Russian Spaceship Launches Tons of Supplies to Space Station

During a midnight launch, the Russian space agency blasted thousands of pounds of supplies on their way up to the three astronauts living on the International Space Station. It was the first of two cargo missions to the station lifting off this week.

The Progress vehicle launched as scheduled aboard a Soyuz rocket at 12:14 a.m. Nov. 17 local time (1:14 p.m. EST, 1814 GMT on Nov. 16) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"A perfect 8-minute, 45-second flight on a brisk day over in Baikonur," NASA spokesman Gary Jordan said during the broadcast. "Everything was countdown on time, three tons of cargo inside."

Russia launched cargo mission Progress 71 on Nov. 16, 2018 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Image credit: NASA TV)

The capsule will cruise for nearly 50 hours before docking at the Russian segment of the space station on Nov. 18 at 2:30 p.m. EST (1930 GMT). You can watch that maneuver broadcast live on, courtesy of NASA TV, or on the agency's website, beginning at 1:45 p.m. EST (1845 GMT).

The supplies will be greeted by the three astronauts currently living and working aboard the orbiting laboratory: NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev.

The Progress vehicle is packed with 2.8 tons of supplies. About half of the shipment's weight is dedicated to cargo, including food and spare parts; the rest of the vehicle is filled with supplies of fuel, oxygen, air and water, according to NASA. The rocket that powered today's launch is a Soyuz-FG, the same type of vehicle that failed during a crewed launch on Oct. 11, sending two astronauts plummeting to Earth for a rocky landing that they survived in good condition. The flawless launch today is a promising sign before the next crew launch, scheduled for Dec. 3.

But today's launch isn't alone: Shortly after the Progress vehicle arrives, the space station crew will get still more luggage to unpack. Northrop Grumman will launch another cargo shipment in a Cygnus capsule, powered by an Antares rocket, early Saturday morning (Nov. 17).

Liftoff is scheduled for 4:01 a.m. EST (0901 GMT), after two 24-hour delays prompted by weather conditions at NASA's Wallops Island facility in Virginia. That capsule will dock at 5:20 a.m. EST (1020 GMT) on Nov. 19, and both launch and capture will be broadcast by NASA.

Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook. Original article on

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.