MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian unmanned Progress resupply spacecraft is readying for an April 9 launch from the Baikonur space center to deliver essential cargo to the International Space Station, the Russian space agency Roscosmos has said.
"The spaceship will carry more than 2.5 tons of diverse cargo, including fuel for the ISS, additional hardware, food, water and oxygen for the crew, as well as scientific equipment for conducting experiments," the agency said in a statement.
The craft, which is now being fueled by a team of experts, will soon taxi to a hangar where it will be readied for the upcoming launch.
Baikonur, the world's largest space launch facility, is situated on the sandy steppes of western Kazakhstan in Central Asia.
The Progress M-23M is one of the latest generation of Progress-M spacecraft, which routinely conduct resupply missions to the International Space Station. Its predecessors made history carrying provisions to a range of Soviet and later Russian stations, including the famed Mir station that plunged into the Pacific Ocean in 2001 during a controlled de-orbit maneuver.
A total of 130 Progress spacecraft have supported orbiting outposts over the past three decades, lifting tons of supplies to low Earth orbit.
The Progress features an automated docking system, called Kurs, which will handle the rendezvous with the ISS under the supervision of the station's crew. A manual docking system serves as a backup system in the case of technical issues.
The next launch of a Progress, the M-24M, is scheduled for June.