A Russian cargo plane left Thursday a Kazakhstan air base and is expected to dock with the International Space Station to deliver more than 3.5 tons of food, fuel and supplies to the six astronauts living in the floating space laboratory.
Russian Progress 72, which does not have a pilot, will be docked at the ISS around 10:25 am EST, NASA announced. The cargo aircraft took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 07:01 EDT, reached a preliminary orbit and deployed its solar panels and navigation antennas.
"It was a perfect launch, just in time," NASA spokesman Rob Navias said in a live comment. "A flawless climb."
NASA started live coverage at 9:45 am, broadcasting twice the plane that was traveling in Earth orbit before going to the ISS, where it will remain docked for three months. The Progress 72 will leave the station in July and return to the atmosphere of the Earth.
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Progress 71 is about to complete delivery of the supplies in record time. The Russian space agency Roscosmos has only attempted to deliver supplies to the space station using this type of plane once before, reported Space.com. Previously, Progress had traveled for two days before reaching the lab in orbit.
The delivery includes 104 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 3,117 pounds of spare parts and other accessories. There is also 3375 pounds of booster, adds Space.com.
The cargo also includes the supplies needed by Expedition 59 astronauts to make an exit in space scheduled for Monday.
The Russian cargo ship will complete the first of three deliveries to the International Space Station this month. Northrop Grumman's Antarès rocket with its Cygnus cargo spacecraft is to take off from the 0A base of the Mid-Atlantic Atlantic regional space port of Virginia Space at NASA's Wallops flight facility on the east coast of Virginia, announced NASA.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon freighter will be launched from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida the following week.
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