UPDATE 3: Progress M-13M Successfully Launched, Operations of ISS Can Return to Normal

UPDATE 3: Progress M-13M Successfully Launched, Operations of ISS Can Return to Normal

UPDATE 3: Progress M-13 M (or Progress 45 as NASA calls it) is in orbit and its solar arrays and antennas have deployed. A successful launch. It will dock with the International Space Station on Wednesday.

UPDATE 2: Liftoff!

UPDATE: Countdown is proceeding to launch in 9 minutes.

ORIGINAL STORY: In a few hours, Russia will launch the next cargo spacecraft, Progress M-13M, to the International Space Station (ISS), the first since an August launch failure doomed Progress M-12M. The fate of this launch will determine when the next crew can be sent to the ISS.

Launch is scheduled for 10:11 GMT (6:11 am EDT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The August 24 launch failure of a Soyuz rocket carrying Progress M-12M threw ISS operations into turmoil and raised the possibility of needing to destaff the ISS. The Soyuz rocket used for launches of the Progress spacecraft is very similar to that used to launch crews to the ISS. It was the first launch failure of a Progress spacecraft since the 1970s.

The Soyuz rocket has been in use since the 1960s. There are several variants, and Russia has successfully conducted launches of two other Soyuz variants since August — of a GLONASS navigation satellite from Russia’s Plesetsk launch site on October 2, and of two European Galileo navigation satellites from the French launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, last week.

If the launch today succeeds, Russia and NASA have agreed to proceed with the launch of the next three-person ISS crew on November 14. The ISS is currently down to a 3-person crew, instead of its usual complement of six, while the Soyuz rocket problems are being resolved (Soyuz is also the name of the spacecraft used to take crews to and from ISS and that serve as “lifeboats” while attached to the ISS).

NASA refers to this as Progress 45 because it is the 45th Progress flight to the ISS. The Progress spacecraft has been in use in 1978, with several upgrades. The Russians refer to this as Progress M-13M, the 13th flight of the current version of the Progress spacecraft.

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