Russia's Progress cargo ship successfully launches to space station

Tonight (June 29), Russia's uncrewed Progress 78 mission successfully launched to space.

At 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT, or 4:27 a.m. June 30 local time, Russia's Progress MS-17 cargo spacecraft launched to the International Space Station from the Russian space agency Roscosmos' Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a mission dubbed Progress 78 by NASA. The cargo ship launched aboard a Soyuz 2.1a rocket.

After lifting off to space, the spacecraft will spend two days in orbit before docking with the space station on July 1 at 9:02 p.m. EDT (July 2 at 0102 GMT). The vehicle carries more than 3,600 lbs. (1,633 kilograms) of cargo including food, fuel and supplies to the orbiting lab. 

Video: Watch Russia's Progress 77 cargo ship blast off 
Related: How Russia's Progress cargo ships work (infographic)

A Russian Soyuz rocket launches the Progress 78 cargo resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on June 29, 2021 at 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT). (Image credit: NASA TV)

After arriving at the space station, the spacecraft will dock with the station's Poisk module, located on the station's Russian segment, where it will spend the next five months. 

After this leg of its mission, in October, the Progress capsule is set to perform an automated undocking and relocation to Russia's upcoming "Nauka" Multipurpose Laboratory Module that is scheduled to launch to space this upcoming July. Nauka is named for the Russian word for "science." 

After a short stint at Nauka, the spacecraft will undock from the space station in November. It will then reenter Earth's atmosphere, where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean as part of a planned and safe destruction, according to a NASA statement.

While Russia refers to the spacecraft as Progress MS-17, the mission is described by NASA as Progress 78 or 78P because it is Russia's 78th Progress mission to the International Space Station. However, other Progress supply missions preceded these, with older versions of the craft flying to previous space stations as early as 1978. In fact, while this was the 78th Progress launch to the ISS, it is actually the 169th flight of a Progress vehicle. 

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.