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Mon, Jun 09, 2003

Russian Rocket Heads To ISS

Resupply Mission Launches As Scheduled

"It was launched successfully." That typically terse statement from Russia's mission control Sunday as a Progress rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying food, water, fuel and even some music to the two crewmembers aboard the International Space Station.


The Russian Progress and Soyuz systems are, of course, the only current link between American astronaut Edward Lu and Russia's Yuri Malenchenko, since the Columbia disaster Feb. 1. America's shuttle fleet, beset by its second disaster since 1986, is currently grounded. As a result, Lu and Malenchenko comprise the entire crew when there would usually be three people on board the ISS - a move undertaken to conserve supplies and reduce the number of Progress missions to the $95 billion space station.

The Progress M-10 launched Sunday will rendezvous with the ISS on Wednesday. The current mission also marks the first time three Russian ships will have docked with the ISS at the same time - including an M-10 capsule and the Soyuz escape ship currently attached to the station. Sunday's launch will be followed by another in late August. The August mission was to have been the last Russian resupply flight to the ISS of the year. However, because of the Columbia disaster, another Progress mission is now slated for November.


During the week, Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu prepared for the arrival of the cargo ship by rearranging items in Pirs. Malenchenko also tested a backup system on the ISS.

In other activities throughout the week, Lu conducted sessions with the Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions, or InSPACE, experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. InSPACE is a fluid materials experiment studying how very small individual particles that are magnetizable respond to a magnetic field that is repeatedly turned on and off. Both crewmembers practiced operating the Station's robotic arm, Canadarm2.



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