Mir docks with cargo ship

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The Independent Online
An unmanned Russian cargo ship docked "very cleanly" with the Mir space station yesterday in the first successful use of a new procedure.

The Progress M-36 brought a back-up computer, scientific equipment, fuel, drinking water and a new European-built device intended to fly around the outside of Mir to examine its surface.

The cargo ship came in on automatic pilot a few minutes ahead of schedule. Automatic dockings are not unusual, but it was the first using a new method that had failed on two past attempts, causing the crew to switch to manual controls. "After each failure we analysed the math ... and adjusted the docking procedure," said flight control chief Vladimir Solovyov, briefing reporters at Mission Control. He called last night's docking "very clean".

The cargo ship was guided to Mir with the use of a different type of radio antenna in a new energy-saving procedure. The flight control chief said the new method involved fewer systems, reducing the chance of something breaking down. The Russian-American crew will wait until today to open the hatch and start transferring the cargo.