Progress cargo spacecraft launched from Baikonur successfully docks with ISS

A Progress M-16M unmanned resupply spacecraft that was launched from the Baikonur space center late on Wednesday has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS), an Interfax correspondent reported from the mission control in Korolyov outside Moscow on Thursday.

The docking was carried out automatically at 5:18 a.m. Moscow time.

A Soyuz-U launch vehicle carrying the Progress lifted off at 11:35 p.m. Moscow time Wednesday. Nine minutes later, the cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the 3rd stage of the Soyuz and headed toward the ISS.

This Progress mission differs from the previous ones in that the freighter has reached the ISS at the fourth circle around the earth in less than six hours following the launch. Normally it takes a freighter two or even three days to approach the ISS for docking.

"The short-flight mode was tested earlier when the MIR space station was in operation," a Russian space industry source said. This mode should also be applied for the manned Soyuz spacecraft to spare cosmonauts of spending two days within a confined space.

The freighter has brought fuel components, oxygen, equipment for scientific experiments, medical supplies, food, water and parcels for the crew - in all, about 2,600 kilograms.

The cargo includes "containers with food rations, fresh food products weighing in total 359 kilos," and also "a container with food rations and 230 kilos of equipment for the U.S. crewmembers," the mission control said.

The crew currently working on board the ISS includes Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin, and Yury Malenchenko, NASA astronauts Joseph Acaba and Sunita Williams, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

The Wednesday launch of the space freighter was the third one this year. The previous two were successfully accomplished on January 26 (Progress M-14M) and on April 20 (Progress M-15M).

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