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MOSCOW, August 1 (Itar-Tass) — A Russian resuppply spacecraft Progress with a cargo of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) and its crew is to be launched from Baikonur cosmodrome on Wednesday.
An official at the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) told Itar-Tass, "The launch of the carrier rocket Soyuz V with the spacecraft Progress M-16M attached to it is to be effected from Gagarin's launch site at 23:35, Moscow time".
For the first time in the history of the orbital complex the spacecraft is to dock with the ISS within six hours (at 05:24, Moscow time, on August 2). Previously, Progress cargo spacecraft used to deliver supplies to orbit 48 hours or even longer than that after liftoff.
"We have devised two docking technologies-- six hours and 25 hours after launch," a Mission Control Center expert explained. "We shall compare the two procedures and subsequently we shall be using the one that will prove better".
The expert said specialists "have been for several years engaging in the development of a new procedure, testing it down here on Earth, and discussing it with cosmonauts". If the endeavour to dock the spacecraft with the ISS within six hours proves inefficient, the spacecraft will follow a two-day procedure, the expert pointed out.
The Progress M-16M will carry over 2.6 tonnes of various supplies to ensure the functioning of the ISS and life support for the crew, including fuel and equipment for the ISS, oxygen, water, clothes, and food for the cosmonauts. Apart from standard cargoes, the spacecraft will deliver the first fermentator with mycorrhizzal fungi and cellular material for biotechnology experiments.
The spacecraft will also deliver parcels from families and presents for the crew. As usual is the case, the cosmonauts, along with standard food rations, will also get fresh vegetables and fruit, as well as candies and other sweets from psychologists and relatives.
Currently working aboard the ISS are Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin, and Yuri Malenchenko, as well as NASA astronauts Joseph Acaba, Sunita Williams, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.
The Progress M-16M is to approach the docking module Pier at 05:24, Moscow time, on August 2 in an automatic mode. If the attempt proves unsuccessful, a redocking is to be carried out on the night from Friday to Saturday, Aug 4.