Russian Progress arrives safely at ISS with much needed food supplies

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On Christmas Night, Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov welcome the arrival of the Russian Progress cargo spacecraft at the International Space Station.

The Progress, carrying approximately 5,000 pounds of cargo, includes food, fuel, spare equipment and Christmas gifts. Chiao and Sharipov have been aboard the Station since mid-October.

Santa's sleigh arrived at the International Space Station for Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov in the form of an unpiloted Russian cargo ship Christmas night, delivering 2.5 tons of food, fuel, oxygen, water, supplies and holiday gifts.

The ISS Progress 16 craft automatically docked to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at 5:58 p.m. CST (2331 GMT) as the spaceship and the Station flew 225 statute miles over Central Asia. Within minutes, hooks and latches between the two ships engaged, forming a tight seal between the two vehicles.

As the Progress moved in for its linkup, Sharipov was at the controls of a manual docking system in Zvezda, ready to take over the Progress final approach. With the docking flawless, Chiao shot video and still photos of the Progress arrival.

Launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday, the Progress is loaded with 1,234 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air to help maintain the Stations atmosphere, 926 pounds of water and more than 2,700 pounds of spare parts, life support system components and experiment hardware. The manifest also includes 69 containers of food, about a 112-day supply.

On Sunday morning, they'll conduct leak checks at the hatch interface between the Progress and Zvezda. Shortly after noon CST (1800 GMT) on Sunday, they will open the Progress hatch and begin unloading their cargo.

Laptop computers, new spares for U.S. spacesuits and components for the arrival next year of the European Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo craft are among the new items.

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U.S. Astronaut Leroy Chiao's blog and all NASA updates at AsianConnections.com are monitored by AC Editor Lia Chang