The ISS Progress 18 resupply ship launched at 6:09:34 p.m. CDT (5:09:34 a.m. Baikonur time Friday). Less than 10 minutes later, it settled into orbit and automatic commands deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas.
Shortly after the Progress launched, Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer and NASA Science Officer John Phillips were informed of its arrival on orbit before beginning their sleep period. The Station was flying over Manchuria near the Russian-Chinese border at an altitude of 225 statute miles at the time of liftoff.
Engine firings are scheduled later today and tomorrow to raise and refine the Progress' orbit and its path to the Station for an automated docking at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on Saturday at 7:44 p.m. CDT. NASA TV will provide live coverage of the linkup beginning at 6 p.m. CDT.
The Progress is carrying food, fuel, oxygen, water, spare parts and personal items for the crew, including 397 pounds of propellant, 242 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water, and more than 3,097 pounds of spare parts, life support system components and experiment hardware. In addition, the Progress is carrying 40 more solid fuel oxygen-generation canisters as a supplemental source of oxygen, if required.
Also in the Progress is an additional digital camera that will be used by the Expedition 11 crew to capture images of the thermal protection system on the Shuttle Discovery during its docking approach during the STS-114 mission in July. The new camera replaces a similar camera that is no longer operable. The photos will be part of imagery-gathering efforts to determine whether the Shuttle has incurred damage to its tiles or the reinforced carbon-carbon coating on its wings during ascent.
Krikalev and Phllips are scheduled to open the hatch to the Progress a few hours after docking Saturday to begin unloading its contents.
The Progress spacecraft that had been at the Station since March was undocked yesterday at 3:16 p.m. CDT as the two vehicles flew over Manchuria, near the Russian-Chinese border. Filled with discarded items, the ship fired its engines after undocking to move to a safe distance away from the Station and was deorbited, burning up in Earth's atmosphere.