The unmanned Progress 5 craft linked up to the aft docking port of the Zvezda Service Module at 4:51 a.m. Central time (951 GMT) after an automated two-day excursion following its launch Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The docking occurred over Central Asia.
Within a few minutes after docking, hooks and latches were commanded to close between the Progress and Zvezda, forming a hard mate and a tight seal between the two craft. Hatches between the two vehicles will be opened later today, enabling Station Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin to unload some 3000 pounds of supplies and personal effects.
The arrival of the Progress vehicle at the Station sets the stage for the launch of the next module for the outpost next month --- the Russian Docking Compartment named Pirs, the Russian word for pier. The Docking Compartment will automatically link up to the nadir, or earthward facing docking port of Zvezda two days after launch, providing an additional docking port for future Russian vehicles arriving at the ISS.
At the Kennedy Space Center, Expedition Two Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms are in excellent shape, readapting to gravity and enjoying life back on Earth after167 days in space, 163 days of which were spent aboard the ISS. They are scheduled to return to Ellington Field in Houston late this afternoon with their Discovery crewmates, Commander Scott Horowitz, Pilot Rick Sturckow and Mission Specialists Pat Forrester and Dan Barry following yesterday's landing of Discovery at the Florida spaceport.
In addition to attending to the newly arrived Progress craft, the Expedition Three crew continues to oversee a variety of science investigations.
The International Space Station (ISS) is orbiting at an altitude averaging 240 miles (385 km).