Russia's space agency has launched a cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies to the orbiting laboratory.
Progress Ms-06 Cargo
The supply ship Progress MS-06 cargo lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:20:13 a.m. EDT on Wednesday for a two-day journey to the ISS. The cargo spacecraft carries with it nearly three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the crews stationed at the research outpost in low-Earth orbit.
The unmanned spacecraft rode on a Soyuz-2.1a rocket, which launched from Baikonour's Launch Pad No. 31 on a nearly nine-minute journey into the orbit before it deployed the cargo craft. After separating from the rocket, Progress MS-06 extended its solar panels and navigation antennas as it makes its way to the space station.
An official from Roscosmos, the agency behind Russia's space science program and aerospace research, said that the launch of the cargo ship went as planned.
"The launch took place at the expected time. The cargo spacecraft's separation from the third stage of the Soyuz is expected at 12:29 Moscow time [09:00 GMT]," the Roscosmos official said.
Nearly Three Tons Of Cargo And Supplies
If things go well, the cargo ship is set to dock at the ISS on Friday at 7:42 a.m. EDT. NASA said that the Russian cargo ship carries 2.7 metric tons of cargo and supplies.
The supplies include 1,392 kilograms of dry cargo placed inside the spacecraft's pressurized compartment, 880 kilograms of fuel to refill the propulsion system of the space station, 420 kilograms of potable water and 47 kilograms of high-pressure oxygen and air to replenish the breathable atmosphere of the orbiting laboratory. Progress MS-06 also carries several satellites, two of which were made by schoolchildren.
158th Progress Mission Since 1978
The flight of the Progress MS-06 marks the 158th Progress mission since the program started in 1978 to carry supplies to the Soviet orbital space station Salyut 6. The mission is also the 69th Progress mission to the ISS including two Progress flights that were not technically resupply missions since those delivered module elements to the space station.
The freight ship will reach the space outpost nearly halfway through the visit of the SpaceX Dragon capsule that brought 2,700 kilograms of equipment and experiments on June 5. The Dragon capsule also brought food and other essentials, as well as scientific research equipment and experiments, which include those that aim to study the effects of osteoporosis and effects of low gravity of heart health.
Progress MS-06 To Remain At ISS Until December
The Progress MS-06 cargo ship will remain at the ISS until December later this year when it will undock carrying trash from the laboratory and re-enter the Earth's atmosphere to plunge into the South Pacific Ocean.
NASA's Reliance On Russia
NASA currently relies on Russia for its Soyuz rockets to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The U.S. space agency, however, is now tapping Boeing and SpaceX to ferry crews to the ISS.