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Progress delivers supplies to ISS

Mission lifts concerns about a potential supply shortage

Russia's robotic Progress 60 cargo craft approaches the International Space Station early Sunday.
Russia's robotic Progress 60 cargo craft approaches the International Space Station early Sunday. (NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – A Russian cargo ship arrived safely at the International Space Station early Sunday, easing concerns about a potential supply shortage after consecutive mission failures.

Local 6 News partner Florida Today says the un-piloted Progress 60 spacecraft carrying more than 3 tons of food, fuel and spare parts docked at the orbiting research complex at 3:11 a.m. Eastern time, two days after launching from Kazakhstan.

"It just feels like Christmas in July," a Russian cosmonaut radioed from the ISS, according to a translator. "The presents are here."

The docking 251 miles above the southern Pacific Ocean came one week after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket failed to place a Dragon cargo capsule in orbit, and just over two months after a launch problem left another Progress spinning out of control in space.

The new Progress delivered about a month's worth of food, ensuring station crews can be fed through November.

Its successful flight should clear the way for another three-person crew including NASA's Kjell Lindgren to launch July 22 in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, to join the three Expedition 44 crew members now on board the outpost.

The extra personnel will enable more science research to be performed.

An August flight by Japan's HTV vehicle is the next big resupply milestone. More Progress and an Orbital ATK Cygnus craft, returning to flight after a launch failure last October – are expected later this year.

SpaceX won't fly again for months while investigating what caused its rocket explosion less than three minutes after launch from Cape Canaveral last Sunday.

The Dragon is a key member of the station's resupply fleet because no other vehicle can return significant amounts of hardware and science experiments down to the ground.

But station program managers are likely breathing easier after seeing the workhorse Progress back in action.

"It doesn't get much better than that," said NASA TV commentator Rob Navias. "A textbook approach and docking."