An unmanned Russian cargo spaceship delivered 2.6 tonnes of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, the first such mission since the U.S. retired its shuttle fleet earlier this year.
The Progress M-13M spacecraft linked up to the station’s Pirs module early Wednesday morning. NASA confirmed the docking, adding that the the craft is carrying fuel, fruit and mail for the three astronauts aboard the ISS.
The Soyuz’s cargo includes 3,108 pounds of equipment, food, clothing, life support system gear, 1,653 pounds of propellant that will serve as a source of thrust for the ISS, 926 pounds of water, and nearly 110 pounds of oxygen and air for the station’s atmosphere.
The docking comes on the 11th anniversary of the arrival in 2000 of the first expedition crew of the station: U.S. astronaut Bill Shepherd and two Russian cosmonauts, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko.
The latest supply of materials comes as the loss of the Progress cargo flight on August 24 grounded all launches of Russia’s workhorse Soyuz rocket. U.S. officials expressed concerns at the time, citing ability of the rockets to travel safety to the ISS. Soyuz rockets use a personnel capsule technically similar to the unmanned Progress module to carry astronauts.
Wednesday’s successful docking paves the way for a planned late-night Nov. 13 launch of three new space station crewmembers aboard a Soyuz rocket similar to that used to launch the robotic Progress spacecraft.
Russian space officials packed the two Apple iPads on the Progress 45 cargo ship as entertainment tablets for the space station crew.