Russia’s unmanned supply ship arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) today (Feb 17th), the space craft aptly named Progress 58. The module docked at 11:57 a.m. EST (1657 GMT), delivering 3 tons of food, fuel, experimental hardware and other gear to the six crew members aboard the station and was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT; 5 p.m. local Kazakhstan time).
The Progress 58 is just one of the few unmanned supply ships that are now supplying the ISS with food, fuel and other equipment. Just 3 days ago Europe’s last robotic freighter, the Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 (ATV-5) — named Georges Lemaitre after the 20th-century Belgian priest and astronomer left the station after delivering its payload. That flight for the ATV-5 brought an end to the European Space Agency’s ATV program, which had flown five resupply missions to the station since 2008.
SpaceX has also been using unmanned supply ships to provide for the US section of the ISS, its unmanned Dragon capsule departed the ISS on February 10th, and arrived back on earth succesfully by splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California. SpaceX has signed a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to fly 12 cargo missions to the orbiting lab using Dragon and the Falcon 9 rocket.
Image Credit: ESA/Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha)