The unmanned Progress M-13M (45P) resupply spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:11 a.m. EDT Sunday. Less than nine minutes later, the ship reached its preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas.
The Russian cargo craft is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station on Wednesday at 6:40 a.m. It contains 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 29 crew, including 1,653 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 3,108 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and other supplies – including two Apple iPads
, the first tablet computers launched into space, for entertainment use by the station's crew.
M-13M's liftoff marks the return to flight for the supply ship and its Soyuz-U booster, after the previous vehicle was lost during a launch failure.
On August 24, the Progress M-12M
(44P) cargo craft experienced a third-stage engine shutdown during its launch due to an anomaly. Given the trajectory and energy, the Progress did not reach orbit and it crashed back to Earth in the Altai Region of Russia.
The delay caused by the investigation and the needed actions to correct for the failure resulted in the next Soyuz crew launch being postponed. As a result, the station was left with a crew of three rather than the normal six and faced the possibility of being de-manned for several months.
The successful M-13M launch sets the stage for the launch of the station's next three residents
on Nov. 13. NASA's Dan Burbank and Russia's Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin will arrive at the station Nov. 16, joining NASA's Mike Fossum, Russia's Sergei Volkov and Japan's Satoshi Furukawa for about six days before Fossum, Volkov and Furukawa return home.
"We congratulate our Russian colleagues on Sunday's successful launch [of Progress M-13M], and the spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station," William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, said. "Pending the outcome of a series of flight readiness meetings in the coming weeks, this successful flight sets the stage for the next Soyuz launch, planned for mid-November."
"The December Soyuz mission will restore the space station crew size to six and continue normal crew rotations."