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Russian Cargo Ship Blasts Off for Space Station

Russian Cargo Ship Blasts Off for Space Station
The unmanned Russian Progress 39 cargo craft launches on time from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 10, 2010 at 6:22 a.m. ET en route for the International Space Station.
(Image: © RSC Energia [Full Story])

An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched into orbit Fridayafter a two-day delay on a mission to deliver fresh food and other supplies tothe International Space Station crew.

The Progress 39 spacecraft blasted off from the CentralAsian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:22 a.m. EDT (1022GMT) with more than 2 tons of supplies for the station crew. The launch hadbeen delayed from Wednesday due to high winds at the launch site.

Known in Russia as Progress M-07M, the automated spacefreighter will dock at the InternationalSpace Station Sunday at 7:58 a.m. EDT (1158 GMT).?

Packed aboard the Progress 39 are 1,918 pounds (870 kg)of propellant, 110 pounds (50 kg) of oxygen, 375 pounds (170 kg) of water and2,645 pounds (1,200 kg) of spare parts, experiment gear and other vitalsupplies, NASA officials have said.

Progress 39's space station arrival is coming on theheels of the departure of an older Progress cargo vessel, which left theorbiting lab on Aug. 31 to make way for the new delivery ship. That older ship,Progress 38, burned up in the Earth's atmosphere on Sept. 6 as planned.

Russia's Progress cargo ships are similar to thecountry's manned Soyuz spacecraft, but do not have a re-entry capsule for thereturn to Earth. Instead, they carry a fuel pod and are built to be disposed ofin Earth'satmosphere.

The supplies on Progress 39 will support the six peopleliving aboard the space station.

The station's crew is currently made up of threeAmericans from NASA and three Russians representing the Federal Space Agency,but that will soon change.

Half of the crew will depart the space station on Sept.23 to end a six-month mission that began in April. The three stationcrewmembers left behind are flying their own six-month mission, which began inJune. They will be joined by another three-person crew later this month.

The $100 billion International Space Station has beenunder construction since 1998 and is nearly complete, with the final assemblymission slated to fly in February 2011. Astronaut crews have been flying to andfrom the station since 2000.

The next spaceshuttle mission to visit the station is slated to launchNov. 1. That mission on the shuttle Discovery will deliver a new storage roomand humanoid robot assistant for the station crew.

NASA will broadcast the Progress 39 cargoship's arrival at the International Space Station live on NASA TV Sunday at7:15 a.m. ET. Clickhere for space station mission updates andSPACE.com's NASA TV link.

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