Russia’s Progress 71 spacecraft has launched with three tons of supplies destined for the International Space Station. The launch took place from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome a little after 1PM EST today. Everything went as planned, according to NASA, which says the spacecraft successfully entered preliminary orbit, deployed its solar arrays, and deployed the antennas used for navigation.
The launch involved the same type of rocket that experienced a failure in October. Both a NASA astronaut and Russian cosmonaut were forced to make an emergency landing back on Earth due to the failure. Russia’s Roscosmos space agency initiated an investigation into the booster failure.
Today’s successful unmanned launch has helped restore hope for a safe crewed launch scheduled for early December. According to NASA, today’s launch will involve the resupply ship completing 34 orbits around our planet before ultimately docking with the International Space Station on November 18.
NASA plans to broadcast coverage of that event on its NASA Television platform starting at 1:45PM EST. More than four months will pass with the Progress 71 locked at the ISS before it ultimately leaves to return to Earth. The capsule carries supplies, food, and fuel.
This will be one of two scheduled cargo resupply missions, says NASA. The second will involve Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket launching tomorrow with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The public will be able to watch that launch starting at 3:30AM EST via NASA TV, as well.