Numerous launch failures were followed by the successful launch of the Russian Progress cargo ship. The cargo ship, which is carrying more than 6 tons of supplies, has now reached its destination and touched down at the International Space Station.
The ISS only had a few months of supplies left so the arrival of the cargo ship means huge relief for all involved, especially after the last two cargos exploded seconds after launch. The spacecraft was carrying propellant, oxygen, water, food and science experiments.
The launch attempt in April failed to reach orbit due to a problem in the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle, which caused the spacecraft to plummet back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere.
This successful launch was made with an older Soyuz-U launcher, which has a different propellant tank on the third stage and was used to launch the cargo ship into orbit.
The second failure that occurred on Sunday was the SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the Dragon cargo freighter. This had been the seventh re-supply mission of SpaceX under its re-supply contract with NASA, all previous missions were successful but this seventh mission exploded minutes after launching.
The third failure occurred last October when Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket was destroyed when the launcher exploded. It was carrying its Cygnus cargo ship.
These three failures occurred in the last eight months for the space station suppliers.
ISS is being served by four supply ships which include; Russia’s Progress spacecraft, SpaceX’s Dragon, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus and Japan’s Kounotori, also known as HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle).
The next launch, which is scheduled for mid-August, will be Japan’s HTV launch.
This mission marks the 60th mission of the spacecraft to the International Space Station and the 28th mission of the M-M specification of the vehicle.
Out of these the two which have failed to reach ISS were the Progress M-12M which was lost even before it reached the orbit and was launched in August 2011 and the April 28th 2015 failure of Progress M-27M which failed immediately after entering orbit.