One Down, One Up — Another ISS Resupply Mission Launches — UPDATE 2

One Down, One Up — Another ISS Resupply Mission Launches — UPDATE 2

UPDATE 2 (October 31):   Docking took place at 9:33 am EDT, just six hours after launch, as planned.

UPDATE (October 31):    Progress M-17M (ISS Progress 49) launched successfully this morning at 3:41 am EDT.

ORIGINAL STORY (October 30): The International Space Station (ISS) is a busy place.   SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft departed on Sunday and a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft is about to replace it.   Progress M-17M is scheduled for launch early tomorrow (Wednesday, October 31) morning Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and will dock with the ISS later in the day.

NASA designates this mission “ISS Progress-49” because it is the 49th Progress mission to the ISS.   However, the program dates back to 1978 when Progress 1 was launched to the Soviet Union’s Salyut 6 space station.  That was the first space station to have two docking ports, enabling resupply missions like this.  The Progress spacecraft has gone through several upgrades over the decades.

Russia’s Progress, Europe’s ATV, Japan’s HTV and the U.S. Dragon spacecraft are all used to take supplies up to the ISS.   Only Dragon can also return items to Earth.  The other three are not designed to survive reentry and burn up in the atmosphere.  They usually are filled with trash which is thereby incinerated in the process.

Tomorrow’s launch is at 3:41 am EDT.   Russia is using a new rendezvous profile for the Progress missions so they dock the same day they are launched.  Historically, it has taken two days for a Progress to catch up with and dock to a space station.  This time, however, docking is scheduled for 9:40 am EDT, just six hours after launch.   This is the second time Russia is using this profile and it hopes to use it for Soyuz spacecraft — which carry crews — in the future. 

NASA TV will cover the launch and docking live.

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