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Progress docks with International space station.

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Progress cargo ship.
Progress cargo ship.

The 17th Progress cargo ship docked with the International Space Station on Tuesday, delivering a pile of supplies. The ship is carrying air, water, food, equipment, and science experiments. But one of its most important cargoes is a new high resolution digital camera that the astronauts will use to inspect space shuttles when they dock with the station. The docking was completed autonomously; however, cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov was ready at the manual controls to take over if there had been a problem.

An unpiloted Russian Progress cargo craft successfully linked up with the International Space Station (ISS) today. The 17th Progress mission to the ISS automatically docked to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at 2:10 p.m. EST, as the Station flew 225 statute miles over the equator west of Africa.

The flawless docking completed a two-day journey for the craft since its liftoff Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. As the Progress approached the ISS, Expedition 10 Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov was at the controls of a manual docking system. He was ready to take over the final approach if the automated docking system encountered problems. Station Commander and NASA Science Officer Leroy Chiao took video and still photos of the arrival. The crew will open the Progress hatch later today to begin unloading.

The Progress carried 386 pounds of propellant, 242 pounds of oxygen and air, 1,071 pounds of water and more than 2,900 pounds of spare parts, life support system components and experiment hardware. The manifest included 86 containers of food, about a six-month supply, to supplement items already in the Station's pantry.

The Progress carried a new heat exchanger device to replace a faulty component in the U.S. airlock needed for the resumption of spacewalks in U.S. space suits this summer. It also carried cameras and lenses for the next Station crew, Expedition 11, to capture digital images of the Thermal Protection System on the Shuttle Discovery during its approach to the ISS during the STS-114 mission in May.

Information about crew activities on the ISS, future launch dates and sighting opportunities from Earth, is available on the Internet at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

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