(Sen) - The ISS Progress 49 cargo freighter docked with the International Space Station October 31, carrying several tonnes of propellant, oxygen, air, water and other supplies.
The Progress M-17M spacecraft launched atop a Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7.41 GMT and docked with the space station only a few hours later. Although the established launch to docking profile for the Progress spacecraft is usually 34 orbits, which takes about two days, a much quicker flight path was used again today. The fast lane trajectory, of just 4 orbits, had been first used in August with the Progress 48 mission, and is being used to establish a flight profile that could be deployed on future crewed missions of Soyuz to the station.
The automated docking with the Zvezda service module, which uses a radar-based system called Kurs, was monitored by the Russian Mission Control Center and NASA's Johnston Space Center, as well as by Expedition 33 crew Oleg Novitskiy and Yuri Malenchenko. The hatch will be opened today.
Whilst the space freighter remains docked it can be used to boost the station's orbit - something it may need to do anytime now to avoid a piece of space debris from a communications satellite named Iridium 33. The freighter has brought 2 tonnes of propellant to the ISS for boosting the station's orbit and will fire its thrusters from time to time to lift the station or if an orbital shift is necessary to avoid space debris.
Its a busy time for the Expedition 33 crew as Commander Suni Williams and Aki Hoshide are preparing for a spacewalk on today to repair an ammonia leak in one of the station’s radiators.
The Progress cargo ship is one of several regular unmanned supply craft for the space station, along with Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Japan's Kounotori (HTV) and US's Dragon operated by private company SpaceX.