updated 11/10/2005 2:32:05 PM ET 2005-11-10T19:32:05

Engineers raised the orbit of the international space station Thursday by nearly five miles ahead of next month's arrival of a Russian cargo ship, a Russia space agency spokesman said.

In coordination with Russian Mission Control, the crew of the space station twice fired the engines of a Russian Progress M-54 ship attached to the station, raising the orbit by about 4.8 miles, spokesman Valery Lyndin said.

Engineers had planned to raise the orbit last month, but an unexpected problem with the Progress' engines aborted the effort.

A new Progress cargo ship is scheduled to blast off from the Baikonur cosmodrome Dec. 21 with supplies and equipment for the station's two-man crew: American William McArthur and Russian Valery Tokarev.

The station orbits at about 220 miles above the Earth.

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