Russia’s Progress MS-16 Unmanned Cargo Ship Launched With Supplies to International Space Station


An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched successfully Monday with a load of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS).

The Progress MS-16 cargo ship blasted off as scheduled at 9:45am local time (9:15am IST) from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan and reached a designated orbit en route to the station.

It is carrying water, propellant, and other supplies and is set to dock at the space outpost Wednesday.

The space outpost is operated by NASA’s Kate Rubins, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi and Russian Space Agency Roscosmos’ Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

In November last year, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience by its crew of three Americans and one Japanese astronaut, docked with the ISS 27 hours after launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, US. The space station will be their home for the next six months. After that, another set of astronauts on a Crew Dragon capsule will replace them. That rotation will continue until Boeing joins the programme with its own spacecraft late next year.

The Resilience crew includes Crew Dragon commander Mike Hopkins and two fellow NASA astronauts: mission pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker. They are joined by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to space after previously flying on the US shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009.

Another US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts are aboard the space station from a previous mission.

“Welcome to the ISS. We can’t wait to have you onboard,” said Kate Rubins, a US astronaut already on the space station.

Before receiving its flight certification from NASA last week, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon had been under development for roughly a decade under a public-private NASA programme started in 2011 to revive the agency’s human spaceflight capability.

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