New ISS Cargo Ship Flies a Fast Track

Just six hours after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the unpiloted ISS Progress 54 cargo craft docked to the International Space Station Feb. 5 to deliver almost three tons of food, fuel, supplies and experiment hardware for the Expedition 38 crew. The new Progress lifted off on time from Baikonur at 11:23 a.m. EST (10:23 p.m. Baikonur time), reaching its preliminary orbit less than nine minutes later. A series of carefully choreographed engine firings enabled the resupply vehicle to reach the station just four orbits, or six hours later, as it linked up to the Pirs Docking Compartment. The Pirs port was vacated on Feb. 3 with the undocking of the old ISS Progress 52 cargo ship that will be deorbited on Feb. 11 to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.