Russian Soyuz rocket launches tons of supplies to ISS on Progress 88 cargo ship (video)

A Russian cargo ship launched toward the International Space Station early Thursday morning (May 30).

The robotic Progress 88 freighter lifted off atop a Soyuz rocket from the Russia-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday at 5:43 a.m. EDT (0943 GMT; 2:43 p.m. local time at Baikonur).

Progress 88 is packed with about 3 tons of food, propellant, and other supplies for the astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS). 

Related: Facts about Roscosmos, Russia's space agency

The Progress 88 freighter launches on its journey to the International Space Station on Thursday (May 30)

The Progress 88 freighter launches on its journey to the International Space Station on Thursday (May 30) (Image credit: NASA)

With the launch going according to plan, the freighter will now deliver this bounty to the ISS on Saturday (June 1). It's scheduled to dock to the space-facing port of the orbiting lab's Poisk module that day at 7:47 a.m. EDT (1147 GMT), according to NASA officials. You can watch this rendezvous live as well; coverage will begin Saturday at 7:00 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT).

Progress 88 will stay at the ISS for about six months. Astronauts will then fill the freighter with trash and it will head back down toward Earth, ultimately burning up in our planet's atmosphere.

The Progress 88 freighter streaks through the sky on Thursday (May 30) on its way to the ISS (Image credit: NASA)

Three robotic spacecraft currently ferry cargo to the ISS: Progress, Northrop Grumman's Cygnus vehicle and SpaceX's Cargo Dragon capsule. Cygnus and Progress are designed for one-time use, whereas Dragon is reusable; it returns safely to Earth for parachute-aided ocean splashdowns.

Two freighters are docked at the ISS at the moment — Progress 87 and a Cygnus — and Progress 86 just departed on Tuesday (May 28). The orbiting lab also currently hosts two crewed spacecraft: the Crew Dragon that's flying SpaceX's Crew-8 astronaut mission for NASA and a Russian Soyuz vehicle.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 9 a.m. ET on May 30 with news of a successful launch.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.