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Monday, July 6, 2015

ISS Finally Resupplied After Unprecedented String of Failures

As reported by Wired: Russia's Progress 60 cargo ship successfully landed on the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station (ISS) on 5 July, delivering much-needed supplies to the crew. 

The craft brought an array of fresh cargo -- the first since April -- to the Expedition 44 crew living and working onboard, including 106 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water and 3,133 pounds of spare parts and hardware for experiments. The unpiloted Progress 60 is now set to remain attached to ISS until November. 

The ISS crew greeted the arrival of supplies with unreserved glee, reporting that it felt like "Christmas in July".

Their relief perhaps isn't surprising: it's the first time the ISS has received new supplies since 14 April, following a series of ill-fated resupply missions; just last week, SpaceX's umannned Falcon 9 rocket, which was carrying cargo including new water filtration equipment and experiment materials, exploded just a few seconds into its flight due to a still-unknown glitch.

An earlier Progress resupply flight in May saw the spacecraft spin out of control and disintegrate shortly after reaching orbit, while Orbital Sciences' private Antares rocket (also unmanned) exploded while attempting to take supplies to the platform in October 2014. Although NASA confirmed after the most recent disaster that the ISS crew had enough supplies to live and work comfortably until at least October, the arrival of supplies provides around an extra month of vital provisions such as food and water.

Soon the crew of ISS can look forward to a supplies boost from the Japanese HTV-5 spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch its four-day trip on 16 August. Before that, three new ISS members are set to arrive on a Russian Soyuz craft on 22 July, which will then be transporting three of the current crew members back to Earth.