A little while ago the Progress MS-6 spacecraft blasted off atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and was placed on its route. The cargo spacecraft began its resupply mission to the International Space Station also called Progress 67.
The Progress MS-6 cargo spacecraft is carrying a total of almost 2,500 kilograms (5,500 lbs) of various types of supply including food, water, air, oxygen, propellant and more such as a series of products for the International Space Station crew, various science experiments, tools and various hardware. There are also 4 small satellites that will be put into orbit from the Station.
The Soyuz 2.1a rocket used for other Russian spacecraft missions is now the one used to launch all Progress cargo spacecraft. Until the previous resupply mission with the Progress MS-5 cargo spacecraft the Soyuz U version was also used but now the Roscosmos space agency has ended its use.
For now Roscosmos keeps on using the 2-day path for the Progress spacecraft. It’s a choice because the tests of the systems that must be used in the stages following the launch to communicate with the Progress and Soyuz spacecraft to be able to use the fast path have been completed some time ago.
The Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft launched on April 20, 2017 with two people on board used the fast path but a quick journey is more important when there’s a crew than when on board there are cargoes only. In the past, Roscosmos preferred to test the fast path with cargo spacecraft but this time the Russian space agency felt that there was no risk of using it for the Soyuz’s journey.
Because of Roscosmos’ choise, the Progress MS-6 cargo spacecraft is scheduled to reach the International Space Station on Friday, around 11.42 UTC. The Progress has an automated docking system so it will reach the Zvezda module on its own.