Image: Progress-Soyuz before launch
A Progress ship sits atop its Soyuz booster rocket before Saturday's liftoff.
updated 6/24/2006 7:08:08 PM ET 2006-06-24T23:08:08

A Russian cargo spacecraft carrying food and supplies blasted off Saturday for the international space station, mission control said.

The unmanned Progress M-57 ship lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at about 11:08 a.m. ET, Russian mission control spokesman Valery Lyndin said.

The spacecraft, which is scheduled to dock at the orbiting space station on Monday, is transporting almost 3 tons of fuel, food and water, along with equipment.

Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams began a six-month mission on the station April 1.

The American space program has depended on the Russians for cargo and astronaut delivery since the Columbia disaster in February 2003. The shuttle Discovery visited the station last July, but experienced problems with the external fuel tank's foam insulation.

Discovery is scheduled to launch again July 1 with a redesigned fuel tank as well as other modifications.

Once at the station, Discovery will be leaving behind one of its seven astronauts, the European Space Agency's Thomas Reiter.

The shuttle crew also will deliver 5,100 pounds (2,320 kilograms) of cargo, including an oxygen generation system that can support a space station crew of six, and a laboratory freezer. They will haul back 4,700 pounds (2,140 kilograms) of cargo, including lots of trash.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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