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Cargo ship reaches International Space Station

Written by: Staff
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla, Apr 26 (Reuters) An unmanned Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station today carrying two and half tonnes of supplies and an experimental satellite to test technologies for future space-based robotic telescopes.

The Progress spacecraft settled into a docking port on the station's Zvezda module at 1:41 p.m. EDT (2311 ist) as the outpost sailed 350 km above the Mediterranean Sea, nearly over the coast of Greece.

''Everything went very smoothly ... absolutely no problems,'' NASA commentator Rob Navias said from Mission Control Center in Houston.

The cargo ship, which was launched Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was the first to arrive since the station's new crew reached the orbital complex on April One.

Expedition 13 commander Pavel Vinogradov, a Russian cosmonaut, and NASA flight engineer Jeffrey Williams are scheduled to remain in orbit for six months.

In addition to fuel, food, repair gear and other supplies, the Progress ship contains the first of three small spherical satellites developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to demonstrate automatic precision flying.

NASA is looking at launching small telescope networks that will need to maintain precise positioning to look for Earth-like worlds around other stars.

The prototype project to be conducted aboard the space station is called SPHERES, an acronym for Synchronized Position Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellites.

It involves three volleyball-sized satellites that will be deployed inside the station to test automated formation flying and positioning. The other two satellites are scheduled to be launched aboard NASA's space shuttles later this year.

REUTERS SRS RAI0050

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