A new Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station today to deliver tons of food and supplies including the treat of fresh fruit to the orbiting lab's crew just in time for Halloween.
While fruits and vegetables may not sound like a traditional Halloween treat, any fresh foods are a treasure for astronauts serving a months-long mission on the space station.
Fresh produce is typically packed along with the tons of supplies delivered on each Russian cargo ship that visits the space station, so the fruit on the new cargo ship only happens to be a timely treat.
Even though Halloween arrives tomorrow, there are no specifically spooky candy treats aboard the Progress 40 cargo ship for space station crew, NASA officials told SPACE.com. [ 10 Space Station Horror Stories ]
Progress 40 docked at the space station today (Oct. 30) at 12:36 p.m. EDT (1636 GMT). Its supplies will be used by the station's three American astronauts, representing NASA, and three cosmonauts with Russia's Federal Space Agency.
Russia's Progress spacecraft are designed to park themselves at the International Space Station using an autonomous docking system. But a glitch during Progress 40's approach to the station forced cosmonauts on the station to intervene.
Veteran cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri Russia's second most-experienced cosmonaut used a remote control system inside the space station to guide the Progress 40 spacecraft to the station's Earth-facing Pirs docking port. Station crewmembers routinely monitor incoming Progress spacecraft and are ready to take remote control when necessary.
Packed aboard the Progress 40 spacecraft are 2,804 pounds of food, spare parts and supplies, 1,918 pounds of propellant, 498 pounds of water and 110 pounds of oxygen. The cargo ship launched toward the space station Wednesday (Oct. 28) from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Progress 40, which is also known by its Russian designation Progress M-08M, is the 40th unmanned Russian cargo ship sent to the space station since humans first took up residence on the outpost 10 years ago. It replaces the older cargo ship Progress 37, which undocked from the station on Oct. 25.
The new cargo ship arrived at the space station during a busy time for the orbiting laboratory's crew. The station crew is preparing for the arrival of six astronauts aboard NASA's space shuttle Discovery next week. The shuttle mission will be the last flight of Discovery before it is retired along with the rest of NASA's fleet next year.
Discovery was originally scheduled to launch on Monday, Nov. 1, but a pair of leaky helium and nitrogen seals have delayed the launch to Wednesday, Nov. 3. If Discovery launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as planned, the shuttle and its crew will arrive at the space station on Friday, Nov. 5.