Russian Progress Cargo Craft Docks at ISS Following Earlier Antenna Failure
A Russian Progress 51 robotic spacecraft carrying 3.1 tons of vital supplies successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, after a bumpy ride this week after one of the two antennas used for the Kurs automated docking system failed to deploy.
The unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft was safely locked in place after final checks to ensure the stowed antenna would not interfere with the airtight structural seal. Russian and U.S. space officials said the docking took considerably longer than usual, but was accomplished without complications.
Officials expressed concern earlier in the week that Progress 51's damaged antenna might prevent the cargo craft from docking properly and would require a spacewalk by ISS crewmembers.
NASA officials said Progress safely delivered 1,764 pounds (800 kg) of propellant, 57 pounds (26 kg) of air, 48 pounds (21 kg) of oxygen, 926 pounds (420 kg) of water and 3,348 pounds (1519 kg) of experiment hardware, spare parts and other supplies to the residents of the space station.
The Progress spacecraft, perched atop a Soyuz-U rocket, blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday at 6:12:16 a.m EDT (GMT-4; 4:12 p.m. local time), roughly the moment Earth's rotation carried the pad into the plane of the space station's orbit.
Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko, flight engineers on the station's Expedition 25 crew, kept an eye on Progress as it moved into position. "We have contact," one of the cosmonauts said after docking, "We have capture."
Also onboard the ISS are NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. The crew is led by commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency.
Romanenko, Marshburn and Hadfield are expected to leave the space station in May after six months onboard. Once they leave, Vinogradov will take over for Hadfield as the commander of the Expedition 36 mission.