Superficially the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft look very similar:

Soyuz TMA-7 (Soyuz TMA-7)

Progress M-52 (Progress M-52)

So it would be easy to imagine that they share a common service module and/or orbital module. But does anyone know if this is the case, or how many common systems they do in fact share?

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, just curious. What are the two light coloured things hanging on some kind of chain in the lower right corner of Progress photo? $\endgroup$
    – sharptooth
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ @sharptooth They're on both photographs. They're the two aft Kurs antennae (radio telemetry) that deploy together with the solar panels and the communications antenna (better seen on the top photo, bottom right). There's two more Kurs antennae at the front of the Soyuz / Progress craft. Refer e.g. to this diagram. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ Progress is an unmanned Soyuz-derived spacecraft that its sole purpose is to deliver supplies to a location usually the Interational Space Station. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


They are essentially the same. The Progress resupply spacecraft is a direct derivative of the Soyuz, where the reentry module was replaced by a fuel tank. Hence the similar shape.

Both are launched with the same Soyuz rockets.

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    $\begingroup$ Probably worth mentioning the obvious: the life-support systems were stripped out, saving weight and space, along with the solid-fuel retro-rockets that Soyuz uses to soften landings, etc. But yah, Rikki's answer is correct! $\endgroup$
    – Kirkaiya
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ This picture lead me to this question/answer. Indeed @Kirkaiya , it could be an important distinction in an emergency, faced with a small parking-lot full of spacecraft. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Kirkaiya: Don't forget the heatshield (also removed). $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, in a pinch Progress could bring an astronaut or two (wearing spacesuits and with some life-support modules) from Earth to ISS, but not down. It has no reentry capacity and is designed to burn up in the upper atmosphere, whole. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Vikki, the heat shield is part of the reentry module. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 12:38

The two photographs you have posted show that the Soyuz middle section is longer than the corresponding re-entry module of Soyuz.

You can also see the differences between the Soyuz and Progress here Wiki. They are significantly different in that for Progress the re-entry capsule has been replaced and the ISS crew has no access other than to the orbital module. The following text comes from the same wiki page:

The reentry module of the Soyuz was replaced with an unpressurized propellant and refueling compartment with ducting along the outside of the spacecraft. This meant that if a leak occurred, the poisonous gas would not enter the station's atmosphere. The fuel is carried in two tanks.

The wiki page also shows these diagrams: enter image description here

enter image description here

Thus you can see that the Progress is quite different, not at all "essentially the same", as replacing the re-entry module with a module for carrying propellants completely changes the concept of operations of the vehicle.

  • $\begingroup$ The link to wikipedia has a typo $\endgroup$
    – ceztko
    Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 8:26

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