HOUSTON—Russia’s Progress 57 re-supply vessel launched and docked with the six-person International Space Station (ISS) early Oct. 29 in a flawless pre-scheduled delivery that unfolded less than 15 hr. after Orbital Sciences’ Antares ISS resupply rocket exploded shortly after liftoff from the Virginia coast.

The Progress freighter delivered nearly 5,800 lb. of propellant, water, compressed air and other supplies. It performed an automated docking with the station’s Russian Pirs module at 9:08 a.m. EDT.

"This launch was a big boost, literally and figuratively, for the International Space Station program in the wake of the Antares launch failure," noted Rob Navias, a NASA mission commentator, from the agency’s Mission Control Center in Houston, where flight control teams monitored the Russian docking activities.

The Progress flight was scheduled well ahead of the Antares loss, tucked between a series of recent U.S. and Russian spacewalks, and November crew departures and arrivals.

Russia’s three-stage Soyuz U rocket and its Progress 57 cargo capsule lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:09 a.m. EDT, or 1:09 p.m. local time, under clear skies and frigid temperatures. The launch marked the first flight of the venerable Soyuz booster with an ungraded digital flight control system to improve guidance accuracy.

After a smooth, 8 min., 45 sec. ascent, the Progress 57 freighter separated from the third stage of the Soyuz on schedule, deploying solar arrays and navigation antennas. The spacecraft then carried out a series of rendezvous maneuvers to close the 2,400 mi. separating the Progress 57 capsule and the ISS at orbital insertion.

The ISS Russian segment Pirs docking port was opened Oct. 27, as the Progress 56 freighter departed after nearly 14 weeks at the ISS.

Orbital Sciences’ failed launch attempt would have been its third Antares/Cygnus ISS cargo delivery under a $1.9 billion, eight-flight NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract awarded in late 2008.

The aft end of the Antares’ first stage began a fiery break up about 10 sec. after liftoff Oct. 28 at 6:22 p.m. EDT, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Range safety officers transmitted a destruct command about 10 sec. later, company officials said as they began their investigation into the loss of the two-stage rocket. The Cygnus resupply capsule and its 4,800 lb. of ISS research gear and crew supplies were destroyed as well.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch the next commercial re-supply mission to the station. A Dec. 9 liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is planned.