The Progress 68 resupply ship linked up with the space station at 7:04 a.m. EDT (1104 GMT) as the two spacecraft sailed 252 miles (405 kilometers) over eastern China. The docking came two days after a Soyuz rocket launched the cargo craft Saturday (Oct. 14) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
"The docking [culminated] a flawless two-day journey following the progress launch atop a Soyuz 2.1a booster on Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan," said NASA spokesman Rob Navias of the Johnson Space Center in Houston during live commentary.
Progress 68 is carrying 5,946 lbs. (2,697 kilograms) of supplies for the space station's six-person Expedition 53 crew, NASA officials have said. Those supplies include: 2,976 lbs. (1,349 kg) of dry cargo like spare parts or science gear; 1,940 lbs. (879 kg) of propellant; 926 lbs. (420 kg) of water; 53 lbs. (24 kg) of air; and 51 lbs. (23 kg) of oxygen.
Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) initially attempted to launch Progress 68 on Thursday (Oct. 12) to test a novel flight profile that would take just 3.5 hours to reach the International Space Station. That launch try was aborted in the final minute due to an issue with the Soyuz rocket.
The launch was delayed until Saturday, forcing Progress 68 to shift to a more typical two-day rendezvous to the space station due to the orbital mechanics involved in reaching the orbiting laboratory, NASA officials said.
Russia's Progress spacecraft is one of several robotic cargo ships that deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Japan's HTV-2 Transfer Vehicles, SpaceX's Dragon cargo ships and Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft are the others currently serving the orbiting lab.
Progress resupply ship docks with ISS 2 days after launch
KOROLYOV, Moscow region. The Progress MS-07 resupply ship, which took off from Baikonur on a second attempt, has reached the International Space Station (ISS), an Interfax correspondent reported from the Mission Control Center in Korolyov, Moscow region.
The Progress, controlled by specialists of the Mission Control Center group overseeing the Russian segment of the ISS and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryazansky and Alexander Misurkin, automatically latched on to the docking node of the Zvezda service module.
Progress MS-07 delivered more than 2 tonnes of cargo, including fuel, air, equipment needed to maintain the station's serviceability, and packages and essentials for the crewmembers. The ISS has two Russian crewmembers at the moment: Ryazansky, whose mission began on July 28, and Misurkin, who left Earth on September 12. The cargo delivered by Progress MS-07 will support their flight.
There will be one more manned launch from Baikonur before the end of this year. The Soyuz MS-07 spaceship will lift off on December 17 to bring Anton Shkaplerov of Russia, Scott Tingle of the United States, and Norishige Kanai of Japan into orbit.