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Jason DavisMarch 31, 2016

In pictures: Russian cargo ship shuffle underway

Russian space station controllers are in the process of swapping out a trash-filled cargo ship for a new one bearing fresh supplies, following the successful launch of a Progress spacecraft from Kazakhstan today.

At 12:23 p.m. EDT (16:23 UTC), Progress MS-02 lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying three tons of food, fuel and crew sundries into orbit. The spacecraft will arrive at the International Space Station this Saturday, docking at the same aft Zvezda port vacated yesterday by another Progress vehicle, M-29M.

M-29M was the final freighter in the Progress M series, which is being succeeded by newer MS variants equipped with upgraded navigation and communications systems. The discarded spacecraft will linger in orbit until April 8, burning up over the Pacific Ocean during atmospheric reentry.

Today's mission is the second of three ISS cargo ships expected to launch within three weeks, as NASA and its international partners continue to stockpile the station following the losses of a Cygnus, Soyuz and Dragon spacecraft within the span of a single year. On April 8—the same day Progress M-29M falls back to Earth—a SpaceX Dragon is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral.

#ПрогрессМ29М отстыковался от МКС. На этапе автономного полёта до 8 апреля на корабле проводится эксперимент «Изгиб» pic.twitter.com/iqg2V5r6tZ

— РОСКОСМОС (@roscosmos) March 30, 2016

Roscosmos

Progress MS-02 rollout
Progress MS-02 on the pad

Roscosmos

Progress MS-02 on the pad
Progress MS-02 fueling and preparation

Roscosmos

Progress MS-02 fueling and preparation
Progress MS-02 fueling and preparation

Roscosmos

Progress MS-02 fueling and preparation

Roscosmos

Progress MS-02 launch video

A video posted by Роскосмос/Roscosmos (@roscosmosofficial) on

Progress MS-02 launch

Roscosmos

Progress MS-02 launch
Progress MS-02 launch

Roscosmos

Progress MS-02 launch

Fresh fruit is on the way! Here are some of the best pics taken from @Space_Station during today’s #Progress launch. pic.twitter.com/7LnfiURTLn

— Jeff Williams (@Astro_Jeff) March 31, 2016

So cool to watch #Progress ride into orbit today...right beneath us! Docking Sat night to #ISS. pic.twitter.com/sSX8hKbpko

— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) March 31, 2016

Read more: pretty pictures, human spaceflight, International Space Station, Russian human spaceflight

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Jason Davis

Journalist and Digital Editor for The Planetary Society
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