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Progress craft makes 'accelerated' docking with ISS

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The Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress M-17M spacecraft launches from Baikonur. A Roscosmos photo

BAIKONUR (BNS): A Russian Progress space freighter has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) within six hours after its launch from Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

The Progress M-17M craft, carrying 2.9 tons of supplies for the orbital outpost, lifted off by a Soyuz-U launch vehicle from the Baikonur cosmodrome 0741 GMT.

The cargo craft then successfully made an automated docking with the aft end of the station's Zvezda service module at 1333 GMT, NASA said.

The cargo, including propellant, oxygen, food, water and scientific equipment, is being delivered to the six-member ISS team.

On Thursday, the crew will conduct leak checks at the docking interface and open the hatch to the resupply vehicle to begin the long process of unloading the cargo. Once emptied, the Progress craft will be filled with trash and station discards and sent to a destructive re-entry in Earth's atmosphere after undocking in April 2013 for disposal, the US space agency said.

Wednesday's mission was the second "accelerated" docking of the Progress freighter with the ISS in which the time span between launch and docking of the Russian spacecraft to the space station was reduced from the usual 50 hours to just six hours, Ria Novosti reported.

A first such attempt was made by the Progress M-16M space freighter on August 1 this year.

Russia aims to carry out manned space flights to the ISS with similar maneouvres when its Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft launches to the orbital laboratory in March next year.

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Progress  ISS  Spacecraft  Soyuz  
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