by Launchspace Staff
Bethesda MD (SPX) Nov 03, 2011
On October 30, 2011, at 6:11 EDT, Progress 45 spacecraft lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This is not normally a major event, but it was on this occasion. In fact, Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, made a statement about the event:
"We congratulate our Russian colleagues on Sunday's successful launch of ISS Progress 45, and the spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station.
Pending the outcome of a series of flight readiness meetings in the coming weeks, this successful flight sets the stage for the next Soyuz launch, planned for mid-November.
The December Soyuz mission will restore the space station crew size to six and continue normal crew rotations."
The reason for this special attention is the fact that in August of this year another Russian Progress spacecraft failed to achieve orbit and a shipment of supplies for ISS was lost.
This spacecraft, designated as 44P, made it as far as 325 seconds into the flight. At that point the third stage of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle shut down prematurely, leaving Progress in a sub-orbital trajectory.
The ISS crew of six were left without fresh supplies that included life support expendables such as food and water.
The immediate concern was the ability of the station to sustain a crew of six for several more weeks or months before another Progress module could be launched. Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle there is no other way to send cargo to the station.
Over the past two months, three of the crew have returned to Earth. The other three are awaiting orders to abandon ship, if this Progress module fails to reach them. So far, it appears that Progress 45 will get to the station within a few days.
Once the station is fully resupplied, the crew complement should go back to six.
Over the next few years, commercial ISS resupply missions from the U.S. could become operational for both cargo and crew rotation. The sooner, the better.
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Russia launches first supply ship for ISS after mishap
Moscow (AFP) Oct 30, 2011
Russia on Sunday launched its first supply ship destined for the International Space Station since the embarrassing loss of a similar vessel in August raised questions about its space programme. The unmanned Progress spacecraft took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1011 GMT on a Soyuz-U rocket, state television pictures showed. Minutes later it successfully went into earth o ... read more
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