Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Cargo Shipping Story For The 21st Century

Consignments Can Go Astray - Even in Space
Shipping News Feature

SOMEWHERE IN THE COSMOS – The freight delivery business just doesn’t get any easier. You can guarantee that somewhere a transport manager was getting an ear bashing for the last couple of days when a clients stock didn’t arrive on time. The difference being that this time the delivery vehicle was an unmanned ship, Progress M-06M, carrying essential supplies to the international space station out in orbit.

A fault in the docking mechanism meant that the vessel which took off on the 30th June failed in its first attempt to deliver over two and a half tonnes of fuel and food to the ISS. Needless to say the man in the hot seat offered all the usual platitudes and, fortunately a second attempt has now proved successful with the cargo delivered intact. Logistics problems take on a new dimension when they are thousands of miles above the Earth.

The ISS is the largest thing we’ve ever sent into space and its construction will continue into next year. It’s so big that if you know where to look, the weather is fine and you have 20/20 vision you can make it out with the naked eye. Despite protestations that the supplies ‘weren’t essential’ if you could see into the ISS now it’s certain that you might spot some very relieved crew tucking into their ‘non essentials’.

Photo: Courtesy of NASA