progress-20-nasa

Progress 20 cargo spacecraft is shown departing the International Space Station. Progress 22 arrived at the station on Monday. (Courtesy of NASA) ((Courtesy of NASA) )

A new Russian supply ship docked successfully with the International Space Station on Monday, bringing more than 2.5 tonnes of fuel, water and other supplies.

The Progress 22 spacecraft launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Saturday.

The cargo ship was on automatic pilot for docking, said Valery Lyndin of Russian mission control outside Moscow.

Previous Progress ships carried garbage away from the station and were destroyed on re-entry, but this one will remain to provide storage capacity for the station.

Shuttle launch preparations underway

At the station, Russian Pavel Vinogradov and American Jeffrey Williams continue to prepare for the arrival of the space shuttle Discovery.

The pair have checked the robotic arm, serviced U.S. spacesuits and set upcommunications headsets.

The station has relied mainly on Russian vessels to deliver astronauts and cargo since the Columbia disaster in February 2003.

The shuttle Discovery is set to launch on July 1 at 3:49 EDT from Cape Canaveral, Fla.The shuttle will deliver a third crewmember, Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency.

When Discovery visited the station in July 2005, the shuttle showed problems with foam insulation on an external fuel tank, thoughno debris struck the shuttle.

The July 1 flight will test the second round of upgrades to the fuel tank.

Changes to the tank, sensors and heaterare designed to prevent foam from falling off in large enough chunks to damage the shuttle's heat shield.