Progress Cargo Craft Docks to International Space Station

It was propelled by a rocket instead of reindeer, but the Progress cargo craft made things aboard the International Space Station look a lot more like Christmas. The unpiloted Russian cargo carrier docked to the International Space Station Saturday evening with a Christmas delivery of 2.5 tons of food, fuel, oxygen, water, supplies and gifts for Commander Leroy Chiao and Cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov.

ISS Progress 16 automatically docked to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at 6:58 p.m. EST. Within minutes, hooks and latches engaged, forming a tight seal between the two vehicles.

As the Progress approached, Sharipov was at the controls of a manual docking system in Zvezda, ready to take control of the Progress had its automated docking system encountered a problem. But the docking was flawless. Chiao took video and still photos of the Progress arrival.

Launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday, the Progress is loaded with 1,234 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and more than 2,700 pounds of spare parts, life support system components and experiment hardware. The manifest also includes 69 containers of food for Chiao and Sharipov.

Among the new items that arrived at the Station are laptop computers, new spares for U.S. spacesuits and components to prepare for the arrival next year of the European Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo carrier. About noon on Sunday, Chiao and Sharipov will open hatches between Zvezda and Progress and will begin to transfer its cargo to the orbiting laboratory.


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