Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Russian Cargo Ship set for Wednesday Launch

Russian Soyuz U prepares for tomorrow's launch. (Energia)

A Russian cargo craft loaded with tons of food and supplies is ready to begin a three day trip to resupply the growing International Space Station on Wednesday.

Loaded with fuel, experiment hardware, water, air and requested personal items, the arriving craft will keep the crew of six happy and healthy for weeks to come.

The Soyuz U was transported horizontally to it's launch pad on Monday morning by way of rail car, and then moved into its vertical launch position. Crews then began the tasks of connecting both fuel and electrical connections to the rocket.

Launch of the Soyuz U rocket with the Progress M-08M supply ship is set to lift-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in western Kazakhstan tomorrow at 11:11:53 am EDT (1511 GMT).

After a three day orbital chase, the Progress craft will fly in and dock to the Russian Zevezda service module on Saturday at 12:40 pm (1640 GMT).

The Progress docking begins a busy six weeks aboard the space station.

Three days after the supply ship docks, the space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to dock to begin an eight day visit to resupply the station and deliver a permanent storage module.

A Russian spacewalk was added on Tuesday. Cosmoanuts Fiodor Yurchikin and Oleg Skipochka will begin a six hour EVA on Nov. 15 starting at 9:25 am EST.

On Nov. 30, three of the current station crew members will undock and return to earth aboard their Soyuz TMA19 craft. Two weeks later, a fresh crew of three will launch and then dock their Soyuz TMA20 to begin their six month tour of duty.

Looking ahead into 2011, January and February will also be a busy time for the Expedition 26 crew. Three unmanned cargo crafts from the European, Russian and Japanese space programs, and the American space shuttle Endeavour will head to the orbiting outpost 221 miles above to bring fresh supplies and equipment.

To the crews living aboard the station, food has always been a form of leisure and most try out their own orbiting gourmet food styles while in micro-gravity.

The space station is a very multicultural location. An astronaut or cosmonaut from one country will always enjoy a taste from a special menu prepared by the crew of a visiting country.

The Russian Space Agency stated today, "Food boxes will contain not only standard rations, but also fresh fruits and vegetables – lemons, apples, onions, tomatoes, and a kilogram of garlic".

"(Progress) will also carry high-speed data transmission equipment to be installed on the outer surface of the station during EVA (spacewalk) by Oleg Skripochka and Dmitry Kondratiev in January," the space agency added earlier today.

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