Video: Space rendezvous

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updated 4/26/2006 4:55:00 PM ET 2006-04-26T20:55:00

Two astronauts aboard the international space station welcomed the orbital arrival of a Russian cargo ship laden with fresh food, water and some freeloading crustaceans during a flawless Wednesday docking.

The unmanned Progress 21 cargo ship docked at the space station at 1:41 p.m. ET after a two-day spaceflight that ended at the aft end of the space station’s Zvezda service module. The two spacecraft were flying 220 miles (354 kilometers) above and northeast of Greece at the time, NASA officials said.

“We have capture,” Russian space station flight controllers told Expedition 13 commander Pavel Vinogradov and flight engineer Jeffrey Williams via radio. “We’d like to congratulate you on an excellent job.”

Vinogradov and Williams are expected to open hatches between the Zvezda module and Progress 21 just before 5 p.m. ET, but will wait until Thursday to begin unpacking the space freighter, NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said.

Progress 21 delivered 5,040 pounds (2,286 kilograms) of cargo to the space station for the Expedition 13 crew. That shipment includes nearly 2,360 pounds (1,070 kilograms) of dry supplies, more than 1,900 pounds (861 kilograms) of propellant, 661 pounds (299 kilograms) of water, and over 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of air and oxygen.

Cheeses, fruits, vegetables, Easter gifts and assorted books, movies and music CDs are stocked aboard as well, Russian space officials said.

Also tucked aboard the Progress supply ship are live crustaceans launched toward the space station as part of a Russian experiment called Aquarium, which is aimed at studying the performance of a closed ecosystems in orbit. The data gleaned from the experiment may aid future long-duration space station missions, NASA officials have said.

A golf tee and bag, to hold a golf ball and club, also rode to the space station aboard Progress 21, NASA officials added. The supplies will allow an astronaut to whack a golf ball from the space station’s exterior during an upcoming spacewalk in Russian spacesuits.

Vinogradov and Williams are completing the 28th day of the six-month mission aboard the space station. Progress 21’s arrival brings the total number of Russian spacecraft docked at the station to three, following the Expedition 13 crew’s Soyuz vehicle — which parked at a Zarya module port on April 1 — and an older Progress vehicle.

That older cargo ship, Progress 20, docked at the space station on Dec. 23, 2005, and will be discarded in mid-June, Navias said.

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