Thursday, July 2, 2015

Progress Cargo Ship Launches to Resupply Space Station

The Russian Progress M-28M cargo vehicle has successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, marking the beginning of a two day-long commute to resupply the International Space Station.

The Progress lifted off from Pad 1A at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 5:55 a.m. Irish Time carrying 2,381kg of food, fuel and supplies for the crew of Expedition 44.
Progress M-28M launched from Baikonur at 5:55 a.m.
Credit: Roscosmos 

After a flawless ride into orbit aboard a Soyuz-U rocket, the Progress separated from the rocket's third stage after eight minutes and forty-nine seconds of powered flight, deploying its antennas and solar arrays a short time later. 

Initial views from video cameras on board the Progress confirmed that everything was nominal and that all systems were "Go" for mission controllers in Korolev in Moscow to send commands to the vehicle to perform a series of orbital manoeuvres to reach the International Space Station.

Progress is scheduled to dock with the Pirs Docking Compartment on the Russian segment of the orbiting complex at 8:13 a.m. on Sunday morning.

This morning's launch comes just two months after the Progress M-27M was lost after the vehicle went into an uncontrolled spin and burned up in the Earth's atmosphere several days later.

It also comes in the wake of the disintegration of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a SpaceX Dragon capsule to resupply the station just 139 seconds into flight on June 28.

In a NASA public affairs event yesterday, astronaut Scott Kelly was asked how the crew were feeling ahead of the launch of this latest Progress; "Third time's a charm I hope. We're hoping that we get this one obviously.. If these next two get delayed or move out beyond September or October it will cause problems but we're as confident as we can be."

Progress will spend several months docked to the International Space Station before it is loaded with waste, undocked and sent to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

Today's launch will be followed in August by a Japanese HTV flight. Orbital ATK is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year.

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