Less than a day after a U.S.-based Orbital Sciences Corp (NYSE:ORB) cargo rocket exploded shortly after takeoff, a robotic Russian supply ship delivered nearly 3 tons of cargo to the International Space Station on Wednesday morning. The Russian Progress spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early this morning, hitching a ride into orbit on a Soyuz rocket. The automated Progress 57 spacecraft joined the space station in orbit six hours later after a problem-free journey.
Antares rocket launch failure
The successful mission of the Russian Progress spacecraft is welcome good news following a major setback on Tuesday when an unmanned Antares supply rocket on a similar cargo mission to the space station exploded shortly after take off. The Antares rocket was carrying a Cygnus cargo ship with about 5,000 pounds of supplies and hardware for the space station. Orbital Sciences Corp (NYSE:ORB) said both the rocket and the cargo are a complete loss.
Space station has sufficient supplies
However, NASA has announced that the space station still has plenty of supplies even in a worst case scenario.
“The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies,” Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, noted in a statement today.
In a press conference just after the Antares launch failure, NASA station program manager Mike Suffredini also told the media that the International Space Station has enough supplies to support the crew through at least March 2015, even without the Progress 57 spacecraft mission and a U.S. SpaceX Dragon capsule launch planned for December.
International robotic cargo ship fleet
The International Space Station also has an international cargo supply fleet. Russia’s Progress cargo ships and the U.S. Cygnus and Dragon vehicles are only part of the cargo ship fleet that supports the International Space Station. Japan’s space agency is part of the team delivering supplies to the station using its H-2 Transfer Vehicle cargo tugs. The European Space Agency also launched five huge robotic cargo ships to the station between March 2008 and August 2014, but that mission is completed.