Editor's Note: Updated after launch and docking.
A Russian Progress freighter launched on Wednesday from Kazakhstan on a Soyuz 2.1a booster and completed a three-hour, record-breaking pursuit of the International Space Station in 19 minutes with an automatic docking to deliver 2, 7 tons of food, fuel, water and other supplies.
The Soyuz 2.1a rocket launched at 12:10 GMT (8:10:46 EDT) from launch pad # 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome; 17:10:46 clock (Baikonur time) Wednesday, approximately at the moment in which the earth's rotation brings the launch pad below the orbit of the space station.
Russian officials approved the final launch preparations early Wednesday, including filling the three-stage Soyuz rocket with kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.
The Soyuz rocket took about nine minutes to bring Freighter Progress MS-12 into orbit.
Four first-stage boosters of the Soyuz were disconnected and dropped at approximately T + plus 1 minute 58 seconds, a and the Soyuz core stage continued to fire until approximately T + plus 5 minutes. A third-stage RD-0110 engine was detonated to complete the task of launching the Progress-MS-12 spacecraft.
Disconnecting the supply ship Progress from the third stage of the Soyuz, it unfolded its electricity-generating solar modules and began a series of maneuvers that reached the orbit of the space station at a height of more than 400 kilometers.
The Progress MS-12 space probe was connected to the space station's Pirs docking compartment on Wednesday at 1529 GMT (11:29 EDT) following an accelerated two-orbit rendezvous profile.
The 3-hour, 19-minute flight from launch to dock set a new record for the fastest trip to the International Space Station, surpassing the flight time of the previous Progress replenishment mission by two minutes in April.
The Progress MS-12 supply ship carried more than 2,600 pounds (1,200 kilograms) of dry cargo to the space station within the spacecraft's pressurized compartment, including scientific equipment, life support components, food, clothing, medical supplies, and personal items for the spacecraft Six-person crew of the research laboratory Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency.
The spaceship Progress also launched tanks with about 800 kg of propellant to transport it to the Zvezda s of the space station's service module, according to Roscosmos. The Russian space agency said the supply mission had delivered about 420 kg of water and 50 kg of compressed gas to replenish the space station's breathing air.
The cargo mission is referred to as Progress 73P in the order of supply and crew delivery flights to the International Space Station.
The garbage-laden supply ship Progress MS-11 left the Pirs module early Monday and set out on a destructive re-entry to end its mission. Most of the spacecraft that arrived at the space station in April was due to burn during re-entry, and any remaining debris is expected to enter the far South Pacific.
The arrival of a Russian Progress cargo freighter on Wednesday marked the second delivery to the space station in less than a week. After a two-day flight from a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, a SpaceX Dragon supply ship with 2,312 kilograms of experiments and equipment came to the station on Saturday.
Russian teams in Baikonur are preparing another Soyuz launch on August 22 with the unmanned spacecraft Soyuz MS-14. The mission will test the compatibility of the Soyuz-MS series spacecraft with the Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle, which Russia intends to use for missions from next year.
The Soyuz-2.1a has a new digital guidance system and other improvements that allow it to transport several hundred pounds more cargo into orbit. The rocket variant Soyuz-FG, which is currently transporting crew into orbit, will be withdrawn after launch in September.
The spacecraft Soyuz MS-14 is launched without the life support systems required for a crew flight, allowing teams to pack additional cargo into the capsule. The spacecraft will dock at the space station on Aug. 24 for a 13-day stay. During this time, the cosmonauts will unpack the supplies and load items for the return to Earth.
The Soyuz capsule parachute lands in Kazakhstan in early September with up to 500 kilograms of equipment, which is significantly more cargo than a Soyuz crew vehicle, usually returning to Earth.
In the meantime, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship arriving at the space station in April is due to launch on August 6 to begin the final phase of its mission, including the use of several CubeSats before burning down during atmospheric reentry.
The spacecraft Progress MS-12, which arrived at the station on Wednesday, is expected to remain docked on the orbiting research outpost by December.
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