As the Station flew over the heart of Africa, the ISS Progress 14 craft lifted off its Central Asian launch pad right on time at 8:34 a.m. EDT (1234 GMT), and less than 10 minutes later, settled into orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas. Its computers are loaded with preprogrammed commands for engine firings and rendezvous maneuvers that will lead it to an automated linkup to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on Thursday morning at 9:55 a.m. CDT (1355 GMT).
Aboard the Station, Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA Science Officer and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke were informed of the Progress launch by flight controllers in Houston moments after liftoff.
The Progress 14 docking to the ISS will be broadcast live on NASA Television on Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m. EDT.
The launch of the new resupply vehicle occurred a little over 24 hours after an identical Progress ship departed the ISS. The ISS Progress 13 undocked yesterday from Zvezda at 5:19 a.m. EDT (919 GMT) and was sent into a temporary "parking" orbit well away from the Station. Over the next ten days, Russian engineers will gather data from its motion control system to determine whether microgravity experiments can be conducted in such a craft before it is commanded to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. The Progress 13 will be deorbited on June 3.
The new Progress is loaded with spare parts, fresh food and fuel for Padalka and Fincke, who are in the second month of a planned 6-month mission on the ISS.
Yesterday, Station mission managers decided to proceed with a spacewalk around June 16 by Padalka and Fincke in Russian Orlan spacesuits out of the Pirs Docking Compartment rather than in U.S. spacesuits out of the U.S. Quest Airlock. The decision was made after additional troubleshooting efforts on Saturday to provide cooling for Padalka's Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU, and for a third U.S. spacesuit on board, were unsuccessful.
The spacewalk is designed to replace a power controller on the Station's truss that failed April 21, resulting in the temporary loss of one of four Control Moment Gyros (CMGs) that govern the orientation of the complex.
Today, U.S. and Russian flight directors and spacewalk specialists began comprehensive discussions on the details of the spacewalk. Padalka and Fincke are expected to begin Orlan suit preparations next week and are expected to climb into the suits around June 11 in a dress rehearsal to insure that the suits are operating properly.