An unmanned Russian spacecraft filled with supplies and spare parts was manually docked tonight to the International Space Station (ISS), two days after it was launched from the Asian desert.
The Progress supply ship linked up to the orbiting outpost at 9:48 p.m. Central time (3:48 GMT Nov. 18), bringing Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev two tons of food, clothing, hardware and holiday gifts from their families. They will spend the next two weeks unloading the capsule, before it is jettisoned to burn up in Earth's atmosphere.
The second Progress to arrive at the ISS was manually guided in for its docking to the nadir, or downward facing docking port of the Station's Zarya module by Gidzenko after the automatic docking system on the Progress failed to lock on to a comparable system on Zarya.
Operating from a control panel in the Station's Zvezda living quarters, Gidzenko used a hand controller to slowly bring Progress to its linkup to the Zarya docking mechanism. A short time later, the crew began leak checks at the docking interface between the two craft before opening the hatch to the Progress cargo ship.
The docking occurred just hours after NASA managers selected November 30th as the launch date for the Shuttle Endeavour on the STS-97 mission to deliver the large U.S. solar arrays to the ISS. Plans call for the Progress to undock from the Station December 1st, clearing the way for Endeavour's arrival at a new docking port attached to the Unity module the following day.
The Expedition crew aboard the ISS will spend the next few hours deactivating Progress systems before beginning a lengthy sleep period early Saturday. They have no formal work schedule planned this weekend before a busy week next week dominated by the unloading of the Progress and the stowage of its cargo.
The International Space Station continues to orbit the Earth in excellent shape at an altitude of 240 statute miles, with its resident crew now well into its third week of work on board.
The next ISS status report will be issued on Wednesday, Nov. 22nd, or earlier, if developments warrant. The JSC newsroom is closed and will reopen on Monday, Nov. 20th at 8 a.m. Central time.
Expedition One commentary on NASA Television will resume on Monday at 1 a.m. Central time.
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