Russia will launch a robotic cargo mission to the International Space Station early Friday morning (June 3), and you can watch the action live.
The uncrewed Progress 81 freighter is due to take off atop a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday at 5:32 a.m. EDT (09:32 GMT). Watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly through the space agency; coverage will begin at 5:15 a.m. EDT (0915 GMT).
Progress 81 carries approximately three tons of food, propellant and equipment to the international space station (ISS). And those supplies will be delivered quickly, if all goes as planned: The freighter will catch up with the ISS after completing just two orbits around Earth, docking with the orbiting lab at 9:02 a.m. EDT (1302 GMT) Friday, if all goes well. goes according to plan.
Related: How Russian Progress Spaceships Work (Infographic)
You can also watch rendezvous and moorings live; coverage of these activities will begin at 8:15 a.m. EDT (12:15 p.m. GMT).
Many of Russia’s space partnerships have collapsed following the nation’s lawsuit invasion of ukraine. Soyuz rockets no longer launch from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, for example, and Russia has stopped selling Russian-made rocket engines to American companies. But Russia remains an integral part of the ISS program, as the launch of Progress 81 shows.
Progress 81 will be followed in relatively short succession by another cargo flight – SpaceX’s CRS-25 robotic mission, slated for launch next Friday (June 10). And the ISS was also recently visited by another unmanned spacecraft – Boeing Starliner capsule, which made a crucial test flight to the orbiting laboratory from May 19 to May 25.
This May mission, called Orbital Test Flight 2 (OFT-2), was probably the last big hurdle Boeing had to clear before NASA certified Starliner to carry astronauts. The capsule’s first crewed flight could take place before the end of the year, provided analysis of data from OFT-2 reveals nothing concerning, Boeing and NASA officials have said. .
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:58 p.m. EDT June 2 with the new target launch date of June 10 for SpaceX’s CRS-25 cargo mission.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).