Russia Launches Robotic Cargo Ship to Space Station
An uncrewed Russian cargo ship launched toward the International Space Station today (June 14), kicking off a two-day trip to deliver tons of fresh food and other supplies.
The automated Progress 67 spacecraft launched into orbit atop a Russian Soyuz rocket at 5:20 a.m. EDT (0920 GMT). The mission lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where the local time was 3:20 p.m., NASA officials said.
The Progress spacecraft is carrying nearly 3 tons of fresh food, fuel and other vital supplies for the space station’s Expedition 52 crew. It will arrive at the space station on Friday (June 16) at 7:42 a.m. EDT (1142 GMT), NASA officials said. [The Space Station’s Robotic Cargo Ship Fleet (Photo Guide)]
“Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned,” NASA officials wrote in a mission update. “The Russian cargo craft will make 34 orbits of Earth during the next two days before docking to the orbiting laboratory at 7:42 a.m. Friday, June 16.”
The Progress 67 launch comes on the heels of a two other cargo ship events at the space station. On Sunday (June 11), an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship burned up in Earth’s atmosphere to end its own recent resupply mission for NASA. On June 5, a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the station two days after launching into orbit. Dragon will stay linked to the orbiting laboratory until July 2, when it will return to Earth to make an ocean splashdown.
An international fleet of robotic cargo ships periodically deliver supplies to the International Space Station. That fleet includes Russia’s Progress spacecraft, the U.S. commercial vehicles like SpaceX’s Dragon and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, as well as Japan’s H-2 Transfer Vehicle.
The European Space Agency also flew five cargo missions to the station using its huge Automated Transfer Vehicles. The last European cargo ship flew in 2015.
Of all these robotic spacecraft, only SpaceX’s Dragon is capable of returning cargo to Earth. The rest are disposed of by being intentionally burned up in Earth’s atmosphere. Progress 67 will stay docked at the International Space Station until December, when it will depart to meet its fiery end in Earth’s atmosphere.
NASA will stream live video of Progress 67’s space station arrival on Friday. The webcast will begin at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) ahead of the docking. You can watch the docking live here, courtesy of NASA TV.