Soyuz Progress M-47 Launches to the Space Station

By Marc Boucher
February 2, 2003
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As the world mourns the loss of the Columbia, the continuing mission of the International Space Station goes on as a Russian Soyuz cargo spaceship launched today with a regularly scheduled re-supply mission.

The purpose of this launch is to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The shipment includes: fuel components, expendable equipment for scientific experiments, containers with food and parcels for the crew, sets of onboard documentation and scientific instruments for experiments at the ISS.

The M-47 Progress cargo spacecraft totals 7,290 kilogram in weight with a payload measured at 2,568 kilograms and was boosted by a mid-class Soyuz-U rocket.

The three member crew of the space station has enough supplies to last them through June. Since the shuttle fleet is now grounded the only way home for the crew at this time is by the Soyuz escape vehicle attached to the space station. If the shuttle is grounded for a longer period a new crew can be exchanged with the present one via a Soyuz launch. However a shuttle is required to help keep the space station in orbit. Every time the shuttle visits the space station it boosts the station into a higher orbit. If the shuttle can not boost the space station then it would eventually fall back to earth and burn up in the atmosphere.

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