Progress 60 spacecraft shakes off the bad luck to re-supply the ISS
The Russian-made Progress 60 cargo craft has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) following a two-day orbital rendezvous period. In the wake of a series of spacecraft losses, the successful execution of the Progress 60 mission will allow the space station's crew and administrators to breath a little easier.
Prior to the Russianmission, attempts to re-supply the space station had been met withrepeated failure. Last month's SpaceX CRS-7 spacecraft carrying 4,000lb (1,814 kg) of scientific experiments, station components, and crewsupplies was lost 2 minutes 18 seconds after launch, as its Falcon 9 rocketexperienced a fatal fault causing the launch vehicle and its cargoto break up over the Atlantic Ocean.
The loss of CRS-7 camein the wake of two earlier failed re-supply missions – Progress 59,and Orbital Science's Cygnus space freighter. The RussianProgress 59 spacecraft achieved an initial orbital insertion, butafter experiencing a terminal loss of telemetry soon after launch,was allowed to slide back into Earth's atmosphere.
Last October's Cygnusre-supply mission didn't even make it that far, as its newly-upgradedAntares 130 launch vehicle exploded in spectacular fashion a mere 6seconds after launch at Orbital Science's Wallops Island launchfacility, Virginia.
Whilst NASA had beenkeen to emphasize after each loss that the crew were amply wellsupplied up to October, the successful docking of Progress 60 willhave been met with an audible sigh of relief. Progress 60 delivered6,100 lb (2,767 kg) ofsupplies to the ISS, including vitals such as food water and fuel.
Having imparted itsprecious cargo, Progress 60 will remain docked with the station forthe next four months, serving as a cosmic trash can before beingreleased from the outpost, and allowing itself to burn up in Earth'satmosphere.