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November 17, 2000
Supply ship to dock with Alpha, move out in time for Endeavour
By Steven Siceloff
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A ship carrying two tons of supplies is on its way to 
Space Station Alpha. 

The Progress re-supply vessel was launched Wednesday from the Baikonur 
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is to connect to a port on the station's Russian 
Zarya module tonight. 

As the Progress automatically approaches, cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko will be at 
the controls of a backup guidance system on board Alpha, ready to steer 
Progress in if its automatic docking system fails. Astronaut Bill Shepherd 
and cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev will monitor the approach and docking. 

Flight Director Jeff Hanley said there are no concerns about the robot ship 
slipping out of control as a similar ship did before hitting the Russian Mir 
space station in 1997. However, the crew has kept a clear path to its Soyuz 
escape capsule in case it has to evacuate. 

The Progress capsule is the second supply ship sent to the young Alpha 
station. The first was launched in August and remained joined to the station 
until late October. 

Normally, a Progress stays at a station for weeks so the crew can unload it 
and fill it with trash before sending it plummeting into Earth's atmosphere 
to burn up. 

This time, the crew will have to work harder and faster to get the equipment 
unloaded, and there may not be time to fill it with much trash. 

The Progress has to be out of the way before shuttle Endeavour - scheduled to 
launch Nov. 30 from Kennedy Space Center - can dock with the station. 

NASA could postpone Endeavour's launch to give the station crew more time to 
complete its work but officials expect the crew to be finished in time. 

The Endeavour mission is crucial to the station since the shuttle is carrying 
a 49-foot-long tower of solar arrays that will provide the outpost with a 
vastly improved power system. 

Onboard the station, the three men continued their efforts to set up the 
station's computer network and exercised on the treadmill. 
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