Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Russia will launch an unmanned supply craft to the International Space Station on Thursday evening loaded with fresh supplies and personal items for the crew of six in earth orbit.
Fuel, water, oxygen, science experiments and items we take for granted here on earth will be included aboard the Progress M-09M craft.
"Several books, magazines, sweets will be loaded into the Progress for Russians Alexander Kaleri, Dmitry Kondratiev and Oleg Skripocka," the Russian Space Agency stated Tuesday. "Books by famous Russian space exploration founder Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, sent by his grandson Sergey Samburov" will also be on board.
Even a secret birthday gift will fly into space which the Russian cosmonauts are scheduled to deliver to their station commander, Scott Kelly.
Kelly will celebrate his 47th birthday in February, and the package includes a note which reads “Not to open till Feb. 21”.
Launch of the Progress craft aboard a Soyuz U rocket is set for Thursday night at 8:31:39 pm EST (0131 GMT on Friday), from pad 1 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in western Kazakhstan.
Following an on time launch, the Progress will automatically fly up to and dock with the Russian Pirs module on Saturday evening at 9:39 pm (0239 GMT on Sunday).
This morning as the Sun began to rise over a cold, cloudless Baikonur, the Soyuz U made its way by way of rail car out to launch pad 1.
This weekend's Progress docking will mark the third major event for the station crew in eight days.
A five hour Russian spacewalk last Friday, and a Japanese cargo craft which will be captured by the station robotic arm and docked to the Harmony module twelve hours prior to Progress' launch.
Crew members Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli round out the Expedition 26 crew.