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Progess cargo ship reaches the space station

Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen
Jul 5, 2015, 16:37 UTC

Sen—A Russian cargo ship successfully docked with the International Space Station today, delivering more than six tons of supplies.

The spacecraft is loaded with propellant, oxygen, water, food and science experiments. Its arrival will be a relief for all parties involved in the internationally operated outpost after the last two cargo freighters failed to deliver.

The Progress M-28M spacecraft docked at 7.11 UTC (3:11 a.m. EDT) with the Pirs Docking Compartment.

The last Progress mission, in April, failed to reach orbit after a problem with the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle, resulting in the spacecraft falling back to Earth and burning up during reentry through the atmosphere. This time an older Soyuz-U launcher, which has a different propellant tank on the third stage, was used to lift the spacecraft into orbit.

Then last Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo freighter exploded minutes after launching. The mission had been SpaceX's seventh supply mission under its commercial resupply contract with NASA. Its six previous missions all concluded successfully.

The Dragon destruction last week marked the third failure in eight months for space station suppliers. Last October, Orbital ATK's Antares rocket, carrying its Cygnus cargo ship, suffered a failure on its mission to the space station when the launcher exploded.

There are currently four supply ships that serve the International Space Station: Russia's Progress spacecraft, SpaceX's Dragon, Orbital ATK's Cygnus and Japan's Kounotori, also known as HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle). The next HTV is scheduled to launch in mid-August.

The Progress M-28M is the 60th mission of the spacecraft to the International Space Station and the 28th of the M-M specification of the vehicle. Two have failed to reach the ISS: Progress M-12M was lost in August 2011 before it had a chance to reach orbit, and Progress M-27M failed immediately after entering orbit on April 28, 2015.