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Russian Cargo Craft Launches

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Russian Cargo Craft Launches

The ISS Progress 49 cargo vehicle launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:41 a.m. EDT Wednesday, heading for a docking to International Space Station at 9:33 a.m.

Credit: NASA

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Russian Cargo Craft Docks



In the midst of spacewalk preparations aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition 33 crew welcomed a special Halloween visitor Wednesday in the form of a Russian space freighter loaded with 2.9 tons of cargo.

The ISS Progress 49 cargo craft docked with the aft end of the station’s Zvezda service module at 9:33 a.m. EDT Wednesday following its successful launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:41 a.m. Progress 49 is delivering 2.9 tons of supplies to the orbiting complex, including 2,050 pounds of propellant, 62 pounds of oxygen, 42 pounds of air, 926 pounds of water and 2,738 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and maintenance equipment.

› View launch video

The abbreviated launch-to-rendezvous schedule, first used with the launch of ISS Progress 48 on Aug. 1, is designed to reduce the typical two-day flight between launch and docking. Russian space officials are evaluating this new approach for future Soyuz crew member flights.

Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Yuri Malenchenko monitored key events during Progress 49’s rendezvous and docking using TORU, the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system. The Progress is designed to dock automatically via the Kurs automated rendezvous system, but the crew can use TORU to take over the process if difficulties arise.

On Thursday the crew will conduct leak checks at the docking interface and open the hatch to the resupply vehicle to begin the long process of unloading the cargo. Once emptied, Progress 49 will be filled with trash and station discards and sent to a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere after undocking in April 2013 for disposal.

Meanwhile Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide configured tools they will use during a 6.5-hour spacewalk slated to begin at 8:15 a.m. Thursday. Williams and Hoshide will venture out to the port side of the station’s truss to repair an ammonia leak in one of the station’s radiators. Since flight controllers are not able to pinpoint the source of the leak within that radiator, the two spacewalkers will install jumpers to bypass it with a spare radiator already located on the truss.

NASA TV coverage of the spacewalk kicks off at 7:15 a.m. Thursday.

› Watch NASA TV

Flight Engineer Kevin Ford, who will be helping Williams and Hoshide suit up for the excursion, joined the two spacewalkers for a review of spacewalk procedures. Afterward all three astronauts participated in a conference with spacewalk specialists at Johnson Space Center.

In the Russian segment of the station, Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin spent his morning working with the Kaskad biology experiment, cultivating cells in a weightless environment. Later Tarelkin participated in a Russian study of the impacts of personal, cultural and national differences of station crew members.

Mission Control continues to track a piece of space junk that may require a debris avoidance maneuver by the station. The debris, a piece of a communications satellite named Iridium 33, is a small object with movements that are difficult to predict. To be prudent, Mission Control is preparing for a possible adjustment to the station's orbit if tracking indicates that the debris could become a threat to the station. If it becomes necessary, the maneuver would be performed using the Progress 48 thrusters at 7:08 p.m., with the time of closest approach about 9:20 p.m. If the maneuver is required, it will have no effect on Thursday’s spacewalk schedule.

› Follow @Astro_Suni on Twitter

› Visit Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

› Read more about Expedition 33


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