New Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station
Russia's Progress 30 cargo ship launches toward the International Space Station atop a Soyuz rocket on Sept. 10, 2008 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
Credit: RSC Energia.

An unmanned Russian cargo ship docked safe and sound, though a few days late, at the International Space Station on Wednesday after a hurricane on Earth prevented its orbital arrival last week.

The Russian space freighter Progress 30 arrived at a docking port on the aft end of the station?s Zvezda service module at 2:43 p.m. EDT (1843 GMT) today in a rare days-late delivery. The automated cargo ship was initially scheduled to arrive last Friday, but was delayed when Hurricane Ike forced NASA to evacuate its Mission Control center in Houston before the storm hit last week.

?We know that everything went well and they docked on time today,? said Mike Curie, a NASA spokesperson at the agency?s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Progress 30 launched Sept. 10 to haul more than 2.5 tons of fresh supplies to the space station?s three-man crew, including about 2,866 pounds (1,300 kg) of fresh food, clothing, equipment and other dry cargo. The space tug also carried about 1,918 pounds of propellant for the space station?s thrusters, 110 pounds (50 kg) of oxygen and 463 pounds (210 kg) of water.

Russia?s Interfax News Agency reported that the cargo ship also carried a new Russian-built Orlan spacesuit.

Aboard the orbiting lab, Expedition 18 commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko — both Russian cosmonauts — and NASA flight engineer Gregory Chamitoff were expected to open hatches between the space station and Progress 30 later today, Interfax reported.

While Russian flight controllers watched over Progress 30?s automated arrival from their Mission Control center outside Moscow, NASA mission managers were doing the same at a backup center at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Curie said.

NASA closed down its primary space station hub at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Sept. 11 to allow personnel to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ike. The evacuation came before NASA flight controllers had turned the space station?s U.S.-built solar arrays edge on to the incoming cargo ship to prevent them from being damaged by the spacecraft?s thruster firings.

Backup station control centers were set up at a hotel near Austin, Texas, and the Marshall Space Flight Center. The Johnson Space Center suffered minor damage, including roof damage to the building housing Mission Control, during the hurricane, NASA officials have said.

Curie told that NASA space station operations are currently being coordinated out of the Marshall Space Flight Center, with the primary Mission Control Center in Houston on track to be reactivated on Friday. The Johnson Space Center in its entirety is expected to reopen on Monday, he added.