MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. The Progress MS-02 cargo spaceship will launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome with 2,500 tons of supplies for the International Space Station on Thursday, Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has told TASS.
"The launch of Progress MS-02 atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket is scheduled for 19.23 Moscow Standard Time (16.23 UTC)," a space official said.
The Progress vehicle is expected to separate from the third stage of the Soyuz 2.1b rocket in nine minutes’ time after blast-off and to dock the Zvezda (Star) module at the ISS at 21.01 Moscow Standard Time (18.01 UTC) on April 2.
The spacecraft will be docking automatically. Russian cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Alexey Ovchinin will be supervising the docking so as to do it manually if needed. On 15 December 2015, Malenchenko had to steer the Soyuz TMA-19M manned spaceship to dock with the ISS.
The Progress vehicle will deliver 2,500 tons: fuel, air, foodstuffs and equipment maintaining the ISS operation as well as parcels for the crew members.
Earlier, Aleksandr Agureyev, the head of a department at the Biomedical Problems Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told TASS that the cargo craft would deliver a standard set of fresh fruit and vegetables to the space station: apples, grapefruits, oranges, onions and garlics. "The cosmonauts have not asked for more products in addition to their usual diet by April 12 (Cosmonautics Day - eds. TASS)," he said.
The previous cargo spacecraft of a new generation - Progress MS-01 - was launched on 21 December 2015 and the next - Progress MS-03 - is due to blast off to the ISS on 4 July 2016.