Russian Progress Ship Docks at Space Station

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An unmanned Russian Progress supply ship arrived at the international space station April 22 carrying tons of fresh supplies for the orbiting lab’s crew.

The Progress 47 vehicle docked with the space station at 10:39 a.m. EDT, ending a two-day flight that began with an eye-catching launch. The two spacecraft were sailing 400 kilometers over northern China, just south of the Mongolia border, when Progress 47 parked itself at the orbiting lab.

The Progress supply ship was filled with more than 2.8 tons of food, equipment and other gear for the six-man crew living aboard the space station.

With the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet last year, the space agency is dependent on Russia’s Progress vehicles and similar vehicles launched by Japan and Europe to ferry supplies to the station until Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Orbital Sciences start making cargo runs under $3 billion worth of contracts NASA awarded in 2008.

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is slated to visit the space station for the first time during a demonstration mission that had been scheduled for April 30, but has since slipped at least a week to allow for additional software testing. On May 17, three new space station crew members are slated to launch to the orbital outpost on a Russian Soyuz capsule.