Russian Progress cargo ship blasts off, heads for International Space Station
A Russian Progress cargo ship blasted off from Kazakhstan Saturday and set off after the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver 2.9 tons of propellant, water and crew supplies.
The launch was originally planned for Thursday, but a last-second glitch prevented main engine ignition and the flight was aborted pending a review. The problem was quickly corrected and the booster was cleared for a second try Saturday.
This time around it was clear sailing, and the Progress took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:46:53 a.m. EDT (GMT-4; 2:46 p.m. local time), climbing away to the northeast as Earth's rotation carried the pad into the plane of the space station's orbit.
The cargo craft, loaded with 1,940 pounds of propellant, 296 pounds of water, 2,976 pounds of crew supplies, spare parts and other gear, came through its launching in good shape and was released to fly on its own eight minutes and 46 seconds after liftoff.
If all goes well, the Progress will fly a two-day 34-orbit rendezvous, catching up with the space station early Monday. Docking at the Russian Pirs module is expected around 7:10 a.m.
Because of the launch delay, plans to test an accelerated two-orbit rendezvous were put on hold, ruled out for Saturday's flight due to the changing position of the station in its orbit.
The two-day rendezvous procedure used to be routine for both unpiloted Progress and Soyuz crew ships. But over the past several years, the Russians implemented a four-orbit six-hour rendezvous, reduci....