The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) welcomedthe arrival of fuel, water, and most importantly food - not to mentionChristmas presents - all packed inside a Russian cargo spacecraft thatsuccessfully docked with the orbital facility today.
The Progress 16 resupply shipdocked with the space station over Central Asia at 6:58 p.m. EST (2358 GMT),capping two days of spaceflight and a flawless Dec. 23 launchfrom Baikonur Cosmodrome inKazakhstan.
"We're very happy that we have a new Progress at thestation," said NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao, commanderof the Expedition 10 mission currently at the ISS, to ground controllers afterthe docking. "Thanks for coming in on Christmas...we're going to go have ourChristmas dinner now."
Progress 16 is thefirst spacecraft to resupply Chiaoand Expedition 10 flight engineer Salizhan Sharipov since they boarded the ISS in October. Itdelivered just over 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms) of cargo, including 1,234 pounds (559kilograms) of propellant, 926 (420 kilograms) pounds of water and 2,700 pounds(1,224 kilograms) of equipment and other dry cargo.
The spacecraft also brought 69 containers of much-needed foodthe space station, where supplies had slipped so low that Chiaoand Sharipov took measuresto limit their caloric intake and NASA officials drew up plans to evacuate thespace station.
Inside those containers was a 112-day supply of Russian andAmerican food, about twice as much as Expedition 10 requires until the nextsupply shipment, NASA commentators said.
Today's Progress docking was originally scheduled for 6:31p.m. EST (2331 GMT), while both the supply ship and ISS were out of directcommunications range with ground stations in Russia. Russian flight controllersdecided to intentionally delay the docking until the two spacecraft passedoverhead and were able to transmit real-time telemetry and video feeds.
"Thank you for your support and Happy New Year," Sharipov told Russian mission controllers.
DespiteProgress 16's holiday arrival, Chaio and Sharipov will not immediately open their fresh batch offood, supplies and Christmas gifts. The two astronauts are scheduled to beginunpacking the new cargo ship on Sunday, Dec. 26.
Chiaoand Sharipov also anticipate the arrival of a secondcargo ship, Progress 17, on March 2, 2005.
- Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 10