CAPE CANAVERAL - In astory that repeats itself every few months, another critical resupply ship is set to blast off from Kazakhstan today,loaded with badly needed food, water and supplies for the International SpaceStation and its two-man crew.
The grounding of thespace shuttles, which can carry about seven times as much stuff to the stationas a single Progress cargo ship, has left the United States and itsinternational partners struggling to keep the outpost supplied well enough sohumans can remain on board.
So far, they've gotten by, despite a surprise holiday food shortage that leftCommander Leroy Chiao and Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov munching on candyto make up for lost calories so they could stretch supplies until a Progressarrived on Christmas Day.
Things are better now.When this Progress blasts off, aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2:09 p.m.EST, the crew will not be in a dire food, water or air dilemma. Supplies aretight, but not dangerously so. The ship is set to dock just after 2 p.m. EST onWednesday.
If something goes wrong,NASA and its partners will have time to carefully plan their next step. In lateDecember, the shortage was so bad, the only optionwould have been evacuation. That no longer appears to be the case.
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