An unpiloted Russian cargo craft with about 2.3 tons of supplies and equipment aboard docked Wednesday with the International Space Station. The ISS Progress 17 spacecraft docked at 3:10 p.m. EST to the aft port of the Station’s Zvezda Service Module. The docking, controlled by the automated Kurs docking system, was problem-free. The Station’s Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov, assisted by Commander Leroy Chiao, was ready to assume manual control of the docking had it been necessary.
Among the spacecraft’s 4,631 pounds of cargo are 386 pounds of propellant, 242 pounds of oxygen and air, and 1,071 pounds of water.
Equipment aboard the new Progress includes cameras and lenses to be used to photograph thermal protection tiles of the Space Shuttle Discovery as the return to flight mission approaches the Station, and a new heat exchanger for the U.S Quest airlock which should allow resumption of U.S. spacewalks from the orbiting laboratory.
Also aboard are 86 containers of food, an additional 160-day supply for the Station. Spare parts for the Russian Elektron oxygen producing system and the Vozdukh carbon-dioxide removal system are among cargo items, as are spare parts and supplies for the Station’s toilet.
Progress 17 lifted off Monday at 2:09 p.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It reached orbit in less than 10 minutes. Moments later, automatic commands deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas.
The Progress 16 cargo ship, which had been at the Station since Christmas Day, was undocked on Sunday, clearing the aft port of Zvezda for the new Progress. Filled with trash and discarded items, Progress 16 will be commanded to deorbit by Russian flight controllers after about 10 days of engineering tests. It will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere soon afterward.
Explore further: SpaceX rocket explosion unlikely to slow launches for long