Unmanned resupply spacecraft
Unmanned resupply spacecraft are a special kind of robotic spacecraft
Robotic spacecraft
A robotic spacecraft is a spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe. Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to...

 that operate autonomously without a human crew, designed to support space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 operation. This is different from space probes, whose missions are to conduct scientific investigations.

Resupply spacecraft have been used since 1978 and have serviced Salyut 6
Salyut 6
Salyut 6 , DOS-5, was a Soviet orbital space station, the eighth flown as part of the Salyut programme. Launched on 29 September 1977 by a Proton rocket, the station was the first of the 'second-generation' type of space station. Salyut 6 possessed several revolutionary advances over the earlier...

, Salyut 7
Salyut 7
Salyut 7 was a space station in low Earth orbit from April 1982 to February 1991. It was first manned in May 1982 with two crew via Soyuz T-5, and last visited in June 1986, by Soyuz T-15. Various crew and modules were used over its lifetime, including a total of 12 manned and 15 unmanned launches...

, Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

 and the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...



Current spacecraft
  • the Russian Progress spacecraft
    Progress spacecraft
    The Progress is a Russian expendable freighter spacecraft. The spacecraft is an unmanned resupply spacecraft during its flight but upon docking with a space station, it allows astronauts inside, hence it is classified manned by the manufacturer. It was derived from the Soyuz spacecraft, and is...

    —developed by Russian Federal Space Agency
    Russian Federal Space Agency
    The Russian Federal Space Agency , commonly called Roscosmos and abbreviated as FKA and RKA , is the government agency responsible for the Russian space science program and general aerospace research. It was previously the Russian Aviation and Space Agency .Headquarters of Roscosmos are located...

  • the European Automated Transfer Vehicle
    Automated Transfer Vehicle
    The Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV is an expendable, unmanned resupply spacecraft developed by the European Space Agency . ATVs are designed to supply the International Space Station with propellant, water, air, payload and experiments...

    —developed by the European Space Agency
    European Space Agency
    The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

  • the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle
    H-II Transfer Vehicle
    The H-II Transfer Vehicle , called , is an unmanned resupply spacecraft used to resupply the Kibō Japanese Experiment Module and the International Space Station . The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has been working on the design since the early 1990s. The first mission, HTV-1, was originally...

    - developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
    The , or JAXA, is Japan's national aerospace agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on October 1, 2003, as an Independent Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the...

Spacecraft in development
  • the American private-sector Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX
    Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or more popularly and informally known as SpaceX, is an American space transport company that operates out of Hawthorne, California...

    , with demonstration flights in 2010 and 2011
  • the American private-sector Cygnus spacecraft
    Cygnus spacecraft
    The Cygnus spacecraft is an unmanned resupply spacecraft being developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation and Thales Alenia Space as part of NASA's COTS project. It is designed to transport supplies to the International Space Station after the retirement of the Space Shuttle...

     from Orbital Sciences Corporation
    Orbital Sciences Corporation
    Orbital Sciences Corporation is an American company which specializes in the manufacturing and launch of satellites. Its Launch Systems Group is heavily involved with missile defense launch systems...

    , with demonstration flights in 2011
  • a Chinese cargo craft based on Tiangong-1 that will have a maximum diameter of 3.35 meters and a launch weight less than 13 tons.

Canceled projects

  • The American private-sector Kistler K-1 from Rocketplane Kistler
    Rocketplane Kistler
    Rocketplane Kistler was a reusable spacecraft firm originally based in Oklahoma before moving to Wisconsin. Formed in 2006 by Rocketplane Limited, Inc...

    , canceled October 2007 when failed to meet objectives.

See also

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