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Successful second try at space station docking

A second attempt to dock an unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft with the International Space Station was successful on Sunday, NASA said.
Image: An unmanned Progress supply vehicle approaches the International Space Station in undated handout photograph
With the Earth's horizon in the background, an unmanned Progress supply vehicle approaches the International Space Station in this undated photograph obtained on Sunday.NASA / NASA via Reuters
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An unmanned Russian space capsule carrying tons of food, water and supplies to the International Space Station docked with the orbiting laboratory Sunday, two days after the first attempt went awry.

A video feed from Russian mission control just outside Moscow reported the docking took place on automatic systems without problems at 12:17 p.m. ET.

The space station has three Russian and three U.S. astronauts aboard as it orbits some 220 miles above the Earth.

The Progress cargo ship was to have docked with the space station on Friday, but failed. Russian controllers said the failure was due to the activation of a transmitter for the manual rendezvous system, which overrode the automated system.

Russian station commander Alexander Skvortsov said the Progress was rotating uncontrollably as it neared the station during Friday's docking attempt, but officials from NASA and Russia later said the ship was never out of their control.

After the failed docking, it was moved to about 180 miles away from the station. A series of engine firings on Saturday reoriented the Progress.

The Progress ships have been the backbone of Russia's unmanned cargo ship program for years. Their importance will increase with the end of the U.S. space shuttle program next year.

The Progress 38 spacecraft is packed with nearly 2.5 tons of fresh food, clothes, equipment and other supplies for the space station's six-person crew, said. It launched Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, it said.

Besides Skvorstov, a Russian Air Force colonel, the current space station crew includes NASA astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Fyodor Yurchikhin.