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Supply ship blasts off with special camera.
The 17th Progress cargo ship blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome yesterday, carrying two tonnes of supplies for the International Space Station and a special camera designed to inspect the Space Shuttle for damage. The Progress should reach the station by Wednesday, and dock in afternoon. The previous cargo ship, now filled with garbage, was detached from the station on Sunday, and will reenter and burn up in the Earth's atmosphere on March 9.
Carrying more than two tons of supplies, a Russian cargo spacecraft began a two-day trip to the International Space Station today after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The ISS Progress 17 resupply ship launched at 1:09 p.m. CST. Less than 10 minutes later, it settled into orbit and automatic commands deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas.
As the Progress launched, Expedition 10 Commander and NASA Station Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov were wrapping up their work day. The Station was flying over the southern Atlantic Ocean west of Cape Town, South Africa at an altitude of 225 statute miles at the time of liftoff.
Engine firings are scheduled later today and tomorrow to raise and refine the Progress' orbit and its path to the Station for an automated docking at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. CST. NASA TV will provide live coverage of the linkup beginning at 1:30 p.m. CST.
The Progress is carrying more than 2 tons of food, fuel, oxygen, water, spare parts and personal items for the crew. It is filled with 386 pounds of propellant, 242 pounds of oxygen and air, 1071 pounds of water, and more than 2932 pounds of spare parts, life support system components and experiment hardware. The manifest also includes an additional six-month supply of food in 86 containers to replenish the Station pantry. Among the items being carried on the Progress is a new heat exchanger device to replace a faulty component in the U.S. airlock that is needed for the resumption of spacewalks in U.S. space suits this summer.
Also in the Progress are cameras and lenses that will be used by the Expedition 11 crew to capture digital images of the thermal protection system on the Shuttle Discovery during its approach to the Station for docking during the STS-114 mission in May. The photos will be part of the imagery-gathering effort for Return to Flight to insure that the Shuttle has incurred no threatening damage to its tiles or the reinforced carbon-carbon coating on its wings during ascent.
Chiao and Sharipov are scheduled to open the hatch to the Progress a few hours after docking Wednesday to begin unloading its contents.
The Progress spacecraft that had been at the Station since Christmas night was undocked yesterday at 10:06 a.m. CST as the two vehicles flew over eastern Asia. Filled with discarded items, the ship fired its engines after undocking to move to a safe distance away from the Station for 10 days of engineering tests by Russian flight controllers. It will be deorbited on March 9 and will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
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