Russia has launched a postponed cargo spacecraft carrying food and supplies to cosmonauts at the International Space Station who had been forced to rely on American colleagues for supplies.
The Progress MS-16 freighter was due to send 2.5 tons of food, fuel and adhesives for air leak repairs to the ISS in December but was delayed due to the need for additional inspections. Until then, cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov turned to four American astronauts to pull them through.
“We received from the American side, in my opinion, 13 containers with food rations,” Ryzhikov was quoted as radioing to mission control last month.
A live broadcast by Russia’s Roscosmos space agency Monday showed Progress lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, reaching its orbit and deploying its solar arrays.
The unmanned Progress is scheduled to dock with the ISS’ Russian segment on Wednesday morning Moscow time.
Instead of undocking later this year, Progress is expected to detach the ISS’ Pirs docking compartment, which has logged nearly 20 years in service.
“Progress then will fire its engines to initiate a destructive entry into Earth’s atmosphere for both the spacecraft and docking compartment,” according to NASA.
A Nauka multipurpose laboratory module is expected to launch days earlier and dock to the vacated port.