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Russian rocket launches robotic Progress 84 cargo ship to space station (video)

A robotic Russian cargo craft launched into orbit today (May 24) packed with more than 2 tons of fresh supplies for astronauts on the International Space Station, and you can watch its arrival at the orbiting lab live online.

The Progress 84 freighter lifted off atop a Soyuz 2.1 rocket from the Russia-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:56 a.m. EDT (1256 GMT). It was 5:56 p.m. local time at the time of liftoff.

“A great start to the journey of Progress 84, an uncrewed cargo ship heading to the International Space Station,” NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said during live commentary.  

Related: How Russia’s Progress spaceships work (infographic) 

A Russian Soyuz 2.1 rocket carrying the uncrewed Progress 84 cargo ship lifts off from its pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on May 24, 2023. (Image credit: NASA TV)

The cargo ship’s journey to the International Space Station will last less than 3.5 hours: Progress 84 is scheduled to dock with the orbiting lab’s Poisk module at 12:20 p.m. EDT (1620 GMT) today. You can watch that off-Earth rendezvous here at as well, via NASA TV. Docking coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT).

Progress 84 is packed with 5,492 pounds (2,491 kilograms) of food, water, propellant, cosmonaut clothing and other supplies, NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said ahead of launch during live commentary. That cargo includes 3,399 pounds (1,542 kg) of dry cargo, 1,080 pounds (490 kg) of propellant, 926 pounds (420 kg) of water and 88 pounds (40 kg)of nitrogen.

The freighter is also carrying a variety of scientific gear, including “a launch device with a nanosatellite intended for the Parus-MGTU experiment (conducted by the N.E. Bauman Moscow State Technical University). Cosmonauts will launch it to test the technology of deploying a solar sail,” wrote.

The Progress vehicle, which began flying in 1978, is one of three robotic spacecraft that currently deliver cargo to the space station. The other two are private American vehicles — SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Northop Grumman’s Cygnus spaceraft.

Progress and Cygnus are expendable, burning up in Earth’s atmosphere when their time in orbit is up. Dragon, however, is reusable, coming back down in soft, parachute-aided ocean splashdowns.  

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the successful launch of Progress 84 on its Soyuz 2.1 rocket. You can watch the resupply ship dock at the space station on this page, starting at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT). Docking is set for 12:20 p.m. EDT (1620 GMT).

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