Unmanned resupply spacecraft

Unmanned resupply spacecraft

Unmanned resupply spacecraft are a special kind of robotic spacecraft that operate autonomously without a human crew, designed to support space station operation. This is different from space probes, which mission is to conduct scientific investigations.

Resupply spacecraft have been used since 1978 to service the Salyut 6, Salyut 7, Mir and International Space Station.

Current spacecraft in this category include:
* the Russian Progress spacecraft, used since 1978
* the Russian TKS spacecraft, used from 1981 to 1991
* the European Automated Transfer Vehicle, first launched on 9 March 2008.

Future spacecraft in this category may include:
* the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, with a planned first flight in 2009
* the American private-sector SpaceX Dragon, with demonstration flights in 2009 and 2010
* the American private-sector Andrews Cargo Module from Andrews Space
* the American private-sector ARCTUS from Spacehab
* the American private-sector Cygnus spacecraft from Orbital Sciences Corporation.

Canceled projects:
* the American private-sector Kistler K-1 from Rocketplane Kistler, canceled October 2007.

See also

* Space transport

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