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Progress delivers cargo to the space station

Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen
Apr 22, 2012, 7:00 UTC

Sen—The Russian Progress cargo ship docked successfully with the International Space Station on Sunday April 22 at 10.39am EDT.

Progress 47, which launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on Friday April 20, delivered 2.8 tonnes of food, fuel and other goods for the crew of the space station.

The automated docking, which uses a radar-based system called Kurs, was monitored by the Russian Mission Control Center located just outside Moscow and by the astronauts aboard the space station. The Progress spacecraft dock using an automated, radar-based system called Kurs, though there is also a separate back-up system called TORU.

The spacecraft docked with the ISS's Pirs docking compartment, replacing another cargo ship, Progress 46, which undocked on April 19. 

Once the astronauts have unloaded the cargo, which includes fresh food, the docked ship will be used for storing trash.

Whilst the space freighter remains docked it can also be used to "reboost" the space station's orbit by firing its thrusters. This is required from time to time to boost the station's orbit or to maneouvre the ISS out of the path of space debris.

The next cargo vessel to arrive at the orbiting outpost should be the first private spacecraft ever to rendez-vous with the ISS - the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX's Dragon craft is scheduled to launch a demonstration unmanned flight on April 30.

In March Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle Edoardo Amaldi (ATV-3) delivered several tonnes of cargo to the space station and remains docked until September. 

The crew aboard the ISS are also preparing for a change of rota. Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and flight engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin due to leave the ISS on April 27. Three new crew members are due to arrive on May 17 - Gennady Padalka, Joe Acaba and Sergei Revin. Astronauts Don Pettit, André Kuipers and Oleg Kononenko will remain on board with Oleg Kononenko taking command of Expedition 31.