Astronautsaboard the International Space Station (ISS) welcomed the arrival of a newRussian cargo ship filled with fresh food, water and other vital supplies Fridayafter a flawless orbital rendezvous.
The unmannedspace freighter Progress 29 successfully docked with the station at 5:39 p.m.EDT (2139 GMT) as both spacecraft flew 215 miles (346 km) above the AtlanticOcean, just off the coast of Brazil.
?Okay,guys! Congratulations with the successful docking!? Russia?s Mission Controlradioed the station?s three-man crew.
Loaded withsome 2.3 tons of cargo, the automated Progress 29 supply ship launched towardthe station Wednesday atop a Russian-built Soyuz rocket, lifting off from thecentral Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After a two-daytrek, the spacecraft ? also known by its Russian designation M-64 ? arrived atan open berth on the station?s Earth-facing Zarya control module.
?Everything?snominal,? Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, commander of the station?sExpedition 17 crew, told Mission Control as the freighter neared its orbitaldock.
Volkov andfellow cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, an Expedition 17 flight engineer, watched overthe arrival of Progress 29 from inside the station, where they were poised totake remote control of the cargo ship if its automateddocking systems failed. But the space freighter flew smooth and true.
Volkov,Kononenko and flight engineer Garrett Reisman of NASA are expected to open thehatches separating the station and its new cargo ship at about 7:30 p.m. EDT(2330 GMT) tonight. They will begin unloading spacecraft?s 4,657 pounds (2,112kg) of supplies on Saturday, NASA officials said.
Packedaboard Progress 29 are about 770 pounds (350 kg) of rocket propellant, over 100pounds (45 kg) of oxygen and air, and 925 pounds (420 kg) of water. The freighteris carrying about 2,850 pounds (1,292 kg) of dry cargo, which includes 568pounds (258 kg) of food, 277 pounds (126 kg) of medicine and 282 pounds (128kg) of hygiene items, according to Russia's Federal Space Agency and wirereports.
A batch of90 snails also launchedto station aboard Progress 29 as part of an experiment that studies theeffects of weightlessness on living organisms, Russia?s Interfax News Agencyhas reported.
Russia?sunmanned Progress cargo ships are similar in appearance to the country?sthree-segment Soyuz spacecraft that routinely ferry astronauts to and from thespace station.
Progress 29was initially slated to dock at a berth on the station?s Russian-built Pirsdocking compartment, but that perch is currently occupied by the Soyuz TMA-12spacecraft that ferried Volkov and Kononenko to the station last month.
TheExpedition 17 crew was originally slated to move the Soyuz to the Zarya dockingport, clearing the Pirs berth for Progress 29, in early May. But Russian andNASA flight controllers canceled that short flight due to an ongoinginvestigation into a previous Soyuz spacecraft?s off-targetlanding last month.
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