Russia succeeds with critical ISS resupply

A Progress resupply craft docked to the ISS. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
A Progress resupply craft docked to the ISS. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Following two previous failed rocket launches, a Russian resupply vessel yesterday successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) bringing much-needed supplies to the astronauts onboard.

The unmanned ‘Progress’ craft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Friday before arriving at the ISS on Sunday. The craft carried 2.5 tonnes of food, water, fuel, oxygen and other critical supplies for the space station.

“The third time’s the charm as the say! Progress 60 arrives overnight. Great news,” tweeted Space Station Commander Scott Kelly following the successful docking.

This successful resupply came at a critical moment for the space station. Two recent previous attempts to supply the ISS had ended in failure, leaving it with just a few months of vital supplies remaining.

In a Russian Progress craft began spinning out of control in orbit during an ISS resupply run and eventually burned up upon re-entry to the atmosphere.

This failure was then compounded by a catastrophic failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket last month, which suffered an “overpressure event” in its upper stage minutes after launch. This caused the entire rocket to explode, resulting in the destruction of the ISS- bound Dragon craft.

The loss of the SpaceX craft particularly hurt the space station, as it carried a new docking device for future private spacecraft, as well as a new water filtration unit.

Although these were the two most recent, there had also been a third incident in the last 12 months when, in October last year, Orbital Sciences resupply ‘Antares’ vessel blew up in spectacular fashion just after launch.

Despite these losses, yesterday’s successful docking allows the ISS to continue operating as usual. Currently is it home to three astronauts, however with these new supplies, three more astronauts will be sent to join them next month.

Of those, a Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly from NASA are currently living for a year in space in order to study the effects of microgravity on the human body.

The next major attempt to bring supplies to the ISS was planned to be carried out by SpaceX in September, however this launch will likely be delayed by the company due to their previous accident.