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Russian cargo ship docks at space station after smooth rendezvous

Less than 24 hours after arrival of a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship, a Russian Progress freighter loaded with 2.7 tons of supplies and equipment caught up with the International Space Station early Monday and executed a flawless automated approach and docking.

Launched Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Progress MS-13/74P cargo ship's docking probe engaged the capture mechanism in the Russian Pirs module at 5:35 a.m. EST as the two spacecraft were flying 261 miles above the Yellow Sea east of Shanghai, China.

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The Progress MS-13/74P cargo ship moves in for docking at the International Space Station's Pirs module. NASA

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka monitored the approach from a control station inside the station's Zvezda module, ready to take over manual control if necessary. But the automated docking procedure came off without a hitch and the cargo ship was firmly locked in place a few moments later.

The ship delivered 1,433 pounds of propellant to the station that will be used to maintain the lab's altitude, along with 110 pounds of pressurized oxygen, 926 pounds of water and more than 3,000 pounds of dry cargo.

The Progress docking came less than a day after a SpaceX cargo ship, launched Thursday from Cape Canaveral, was captured by the station's robot arm and pulled in for berthing Sunday at the forward Harmony module's Earth-facing port.

The Dragon's pressurized cabin was loaded with 564 pounds of crew supplies, 2,154 pounds of research gear and experiment samples, 675 pounds of station hardware and spare parts, 141 pounds of spacewalk equipment and 33 pounds of computer hardware.

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With the arrival of the Progress, the space station is now hosing five visiting vehicles. NASA

A replacement lithium-ion battery for the station's solar power system was brought up in the Dragon's unpressurized trunk section, along with a multi-spectral Earth-observation camera.

With the arrival of the Progress, the space station is now hosting five visiting vehicles: the Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ferry ships, the Progress, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft and the SpaceX Dragon.

A sixth vehicle, a Boeing Starliner capsule, is expected to arrive Dec. 21, the day after launch from Cape Canaveral on a long-awaited unpiloted test flight. SpaceX completed a similar test flight earlier this year and if the Starliner flight goes well, both companies plan to begin launching astronauts to the lab complex next year.

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