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Hi space guys, we are from Earth!

Robot spacecraft brings supplies to humans on board the International Space Station. Anticipation builds up for the Space Shuttle Discovery launch.


19 June, 2005: Flying 225 miles above the People's Republic of China, Russia's robot spacecraft Progress docked with the International Space Station, bringing supplies to the station and its occupants before the arrival of Space Shuttle Discovery next month.

The keenly-awaited launch of Space Shuttle Discovery is expected to happen in the middle of next month. The launch has been postponed several times to ensure that all the safeguards are in place before before Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off.

Supplies to the International Space Station, which rotates around the earth in low-orbit space are routinely brought by the unmanned Progress Spacecraft made by Russia. The spacecraft is packed with supplies at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazaghstan and heads to space to meet with the International Space Station to transfer supplies.

Progress spacecraft has brought food, water, supplies and equipment to support the space shuttle's arrival next month.

Progress has an automated docking system which was not deployed this time. From inside the International Space Station's Zvezda service module, commander Sergei Krikalev took charge of Progress's remote control as it neared the station. The 24-feet (seven-meter)-long Progress vessel was carefully steered toward a docking port.

"Congratulations, Sergei. Excellent," gushed flight controllers at the flight control center outside of Moscow just when the cargo ship made contact at 8:42 p.m. (0042 GMT on Sunday).

The automated Kurs docking system was not used because a problem with a Russian ground station prevented uplinking a command for Progress to begin the final approach. Krikalev was assisted by NASA Science Officer John Phillips in the smooth manual docking operation.

The Progress carries over 2 tons of cargo for the station, including equipment to help with shuttle Discovery's arrival next month.

Though Space Shuttle Discovery launch this time is more of a test flight, it is also supposed to make a call to the international Space Station. As Space Shuttle Discovery approaches the station, the Space Station crew will take pictures of the approaching craft and the thermal tiles on its body.

Why the concern? Because, Space Shuttle Columbia exploded as it was entering Earth from the space when the thermal tiles on its body gave away. Nasa and the International Space Station wants to make sure that the tiles are in pefect condition for the crew's safe return. The Columbia crash had killed all seven astronauts on board, prompting an immediate grounding of all space travel.

In addition to a digital camera needed for the shuttle inspection, the Russian cargo ship is carrying food, propellant, oxygen and air, water, as well as spare parts, life support system components and experiment hardware.

The Progress is also carrying 40 chemical canisters that generate oxygen if the station's primary oxygen system, which has suffered repeated breakdowns, fails. 




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