An unmanned Russian cargo craft was tracking well as it headed to the International Space Station, following its successful launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
A Soyuz rocket launched the 61st Progress cargo-delivery ship toward the ISS at 9:49 a.m. PDT on Oct. 1. Loaded with three tons of food, fuel and supplies, the Progress was expected to dock at the space station about six hours after its launch.
“There has been good first-stage performance, and the boosters have been jettisoned,” a NASA TV commentator said over images of the spacecraft’s launch toward orbit. “All structural parameters are reported to be normal.”
The Progress reached initial orbit at 10:02 PDT.
The launch originally had been moved forward from Oct. 22 to Sept. 21 but then was again rescheduled for 10 days later. The Progress will remain docked at at the station until early December, when it will fill its cargo hold with space trash and return into the Earth’s atmosphere for a planned disintegration over the Pacific Ocean.
Earlier this week, a Japanese cargo capsule undocked from the ISS at 7:50 a.m. PDT on Sept. 28 in the culmination of another resupply mission. The capsule — which Japanese Space Agency JAXA launched toward the space station on Aug. 19 — burned up upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere a day later, as planned.
JAXA and Mitsubishi collaborated on the design of the Kounotori HTV5, or “White Stork” cargo ship.
U.S. rocket companies SpaceX and Orbital ATK are working toward a resumption of ISS cargo deliveries in coming months. Both have had to halt such missions temporarily in the aftermath of rocket explosions during the past year.
Photo: NASA TV