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Russia’s Progress 87 cargo ship arrives at International Space Station

Russia’s robotic Progress 87 cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station early Saturday morning (Feb. 17), delivering about 3 tons of supplies.

Progress 87 launched toward the orbiting lab on Wednesday night (Feb. 14), riding a Soyuz rocket into the sky from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The freighter caught up to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday at 1:06 a.m. EST (0606 GMT), while the two craft were flying about 260 miles (418 kilometers) above the South Pacific.

Related: Facts about Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency

The Progress vehicle, which is carrying about 3 tons of food, fuel and other supplies, docked autonomously, as planned. But cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub monitored the process from inside the ISS on Saturday morning — and were prepared to jump into action if they’d needed to, as NASA officials explained in a blog post on Friday (Feb. 16).

“Kononenko and Chub spent Friday preparing for the upcoming cargo delivery by reviewing telerobotically operated rendezvous unit (TORU) procedures, which allows them to remotely control an arriving spacecraft in the unlikely event it could not automatically dock,” agency officials wrote in the post.

Kononenko, who recently set the world record for most time spent in space, and Chub are currently sharing the station with five other people: cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, NASA astronauts Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa and the European Space Agency‘s Andreas Mogensen.

Borisov, Furukawa, Mogensen and Moghbeli arrived at the ISS last August on SpaceX‘s Crew-7 mission. The quartet will soon return to Earth and be replaced on the orbiting lab by the four astronauts of Crew-8, scheduled to launch no earlier than March 1.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:15 a.m. ET on Feb. 17 with news of successful docking.

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