An unmanned Russian cargo ship blasted off Thursday to the international space station to deliver supplies and equipment for its three-person crew, space officials said.
The Progress M-59 lifted off atop a Soyuz-U booster rocket at 5:12 a.m. from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and entered orbit about nine minutes later, said Nikolai Kryuchkov, a spokesman for the Federal Space Agency.
The ship was expected to dock at the station at 6 a.m. on Saturday to deliver 2 1/2 tons of fuel, spacewalk gear and other supplies for the two American astronauts and the Russian cosmonaut currently on board the station.
Russian unmanned Progress and manned Soyuz ships have long been the workhorses of the space station program, shuttling crews and cargo back and forth even while the U.S. space shuttle fleet was grounded.
On Wednesday, fragments of another Russian cargo ship carrying garbage and used equipment from the international space station crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean.