Russian supply ship heads for space station

A Russian Progress supply ship takes off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.

Energia

A Russian cargo ship loaded with 3 tons of supplies, equipment and propellant blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday and climbed smoothly into orbit for a two-day rendezvous with the International Space Station.

The unpiloted Progress MS-06/67P freighter, mounted atop a Soyuz-2.1a booster, lifted off from Site 31 at the sprawling cosmodrome at 5:20 a.m. EDT (GMT-4; 3:20 p.m. local time) and was released into the planned preliminary orbit a little less than nine minutes later. Russian engineers reported the spacecraft came through launch in good shape, deploying its solar arrays and antennas as planned.

If all goes well, the cargo ship will reach the station early Friday, moving in for an autonomous docking at the aft port of the Russian Zvezda module around 7:42 a.m.

On board are 1,940 pounds of propellant, more than 100 pounds of compressed oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 3,069 pounds of spare parts, crew supplies and other equipment, including "food ration containers and selections of fresh produce (that) were prepared for the crew members," according to Energia, the Russian contractor.

Also on board: "Napkins, towels, underwear sets, space coveralls" and medical kits, along with data files, experiment hardware and a Russian Orlan spacesuit. The Progress also will deliver about 156 pounds of NASA gear and supplies.

The Progress will be unloaded by station commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and his two American crewmates, Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer.

The three Expedition 52 crewmates have had the station to themselves since June 2 when three other crew members departed and returned to Earth. They will be replaced by Soyuz MS-05 commander Sergey Ryazanskiy, Randy Bresnik and ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who are scheduled for launch July 28.

This is the second Progress launched to the lab complex so far this year. Two SpaceX Dragon supply ships were launched in January and earlier this month and an Orbital ATK Cygnus freighter reached the lab in April. Two more Dragons are scheduled for launch in August and November, a Cygnus will fly in September and another Progress is scheduled for flight in October.

  • William Harwood

    Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."