New Cargo Ship Launches Toward Space Station

New Cargo Ship Launches Toward Space Station
A Russian Soyuz rocket launches the Progress 28 cargo ship to the International Space Station on Feb. 5, 2008. (Image credit: RSC Energia.)

An unmannedRussian cargo ship rocketed toward the International Space Station (ISS) Tuesdayto deliver fresh supplies for the orbiting laboratory?s astronaut crew.

The Progress28 freighter launchedinto orbit at 8:03 a.m. EST (1303 GMT) atop a Russian-built Soyuz rocketfrom the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome, beginning a three-dayrun toward the ISS.

Tuckedaboard the automated cargo ship are more than 2.5 tons of food, air, water andother vital supplies for the station and its three-astronaut Expedition 16 crew.The spacecraft is due to arrive at the station?s Russian Pirs dockingcompartment on Thursday at 9:38 a.m. EST (1438 GMT), just a few hours beforeNASA?s space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch its own mission to theISS.

Russia?s disposable Progress spacecraftare similar in appearance to its astronaut-carrying Soyuz vehicles, but areoutfitted to make periodic deliveries of fresh supplies, equipment and vitalrocket propellant to the space station.

Progress 28is carrying about 100 pounds (45 kg) of oxygen, 925 pounds (420 kg) of waterand some 2,925 pounds (1,327 kg) of dry supplies like food, clothing andequipment. About 1,165 pounds (528 kg) of propellant is stored in thespacecraft?s tanks.

The newsupply ship is the first of a seriesof visiting spacecraft bound for the ISS over the next few months. Itspredecessor, Progress 27, departed the space station early Monday with a loadof trash and unneeded items for fiery disposal by burning up in the Earth?satmosphere.

Following Progress28?s arrival on Thursday, NASAhopes to launch the Atlantis shuttle and its STS-122 crew to the spacestation, where astronauts will deliver the EuropeanSpace Agency?s Columbus laboratory. Atlantis is slated to dock at the ISSon Saturday.

Progress28, meanwhile, is scheduled to leave the station on Feb. 15, NASA officialssaid. A new European Space Agency cargo ship, the Automated Transfer VehicleJules Verne, will follow with a launch as early as Feb. 22 and dock as early asMarch 15, ESA officials have said.

Two more visitingshuttle missions and a Soyuz spacecraft carrying a new Expedition 17 crew arealso expected to arrive at the station by the end of April.

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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.