Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) breathed a collective sigh of relief after receiving much-needed supplies thanks to the ISS resupply mission.
ISS RESUPPLY MISSION SUCCESS AT LAST
Russia’s Progress 60 cargo spaceship launched atop a Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:55 a.m. ET on Friday, July 3. The craft reached orbit nine minutes after launch. And it successfully docked with the ISS at 3:11 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 5.
Progress 60 delivered more than three tons of supplies including food, water, fuel, oxygen, spare parts, and experiments to the ISS.
The spacecraft will remain docked to the ISS for four months.
This successful ISS resupply mission launch and docking comes after a string of unsuccessful attempts to resupply the ISS with essential supplies.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) July 5, 2015
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket broke apart shortly after launch on June 28, destroying its cargo-carrying Dragon spacecraft. A Russian Progress cargo spaceship spiraled out of control and was lost shortly after its launch in April 2015. And Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo capsule exploded just above its launch platform in October 2014.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY
The station’s crew is thrilled by the successful ISS resupply mission, Progress 60 mission, describing that receiving the needed supplies feels like “Christmas in July.”
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) July 5, 2015
Because of the previous failed missions, the crew was just months away from needing to break into emergency reserve supplies.
The new supplies should be enough to sustain the station through November. The next mission to resupply the ISS is Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, scheduled to launch in mid-August.
ROAD TO RECOVERY
SpaceX is still investigating the cause of the June 28 Falcon 9 failure. The private space company hopes to learn from its first failed ISS resupply attempt and continue improving its space flight capabilities.
SpaceX plans to test an in-flight abort feature to demonstrate the ability of the Dragon capsule to separate from its rocket in the event of a rocket malfunction—something that could save cargo and, eventually, astronauts’ lives, if a similar event like the June 28 ISS resupply mission rocket failure occurs.
The company recently announced that it will launch this abort test from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida instead of the originally planned location of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Orbital Sciences has essentially been grounded since the failure of its Antares rocket. But the company’s Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in late 2015.