Just nine hours after the United States suffered a massive launch failure of a supply ship to the International Space Station, Russia sent a cargo craft — successfully — out of Kazakhstan with more than five tons of rocket fuel, water, air and other supplies for the space station.
The Progress M-25M/57P spacecraft atop the Soyuz-2.1a rocket — making its first flight — took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome early Wednesday, carrying 5,793 pounds of equipment, CBS News reported.
The Soyuz booster was outfitted with a new digital flight computer and was able to car an extra 660 pounds of cargo, compared to earlier rocket versions, RussiansSpaceWeb.com reported.
The ascent went smoothly — marking a dramatic contrast with NASA’s own Tuesday evening failure that saw the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explode just seconds after launch. The Cygnus cargo ship, carrying 5,050 pounds of supplies, was destroyed in the incident.
Russia’s spacecraft, launched just nine hours after the U.S. failure, is expected to meet up with the ISS in just a few hours.
“The Progress is doing splendid,” a flight controller in Moscow said during a radio discussion with Expedition 41 commander Maxim Suraev, CBS News reported. “All the systems are preforming nominal, the antennas are deployed, and so all we’ve got to do is wait.”
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