Crew Preps for Two Space Deliveries Racing to Station

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter and Russia's Progress 74 resupply ship blast off to resupply the space station
(At left) The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX with the Dragon space freighter on top lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (At right) Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Two space deliveries are racing to the International Space Station and the Expedition 61 crew is getting ready to receive them. Several tons of science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware are in orbit right now to replenish the orbiting laboratory.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship blasted off this morning from Kazakhstan and is on its way to the station’s Pirs docking compartment for a linkup on Monday morning. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will be on duty monitoring the 74P’s automated docking at 5:38 a.m. EST.

The SpaceX Dragon commercial space freighter will arrive first on Sunday and astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan will be waiting in the cupola to capture it. The duo will carefully guide the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Dragon at 5:30 a.m. Mission controllers will take over then remotely control the Canadarm2 and install the U.S. cargo craft to the Harmony module.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are configuring the space station for the new research gear Dragon is delivering on Sunday. Morgan and Parmitano will also be unloading the multitude of science experiments and critical research samples.

Northrop Grumman deorbited one of its two Cygnus resupply ships in space today four months after it departed the orbiting lab.  It orbited Earth for a series of engineering tests before it was commanded to reenter the atmosphere and burn up safely over the Pacific Ocean.  The most recent Cygnus is still attached to the space station’s Unity module and targeted to leave in mid-January.

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