Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Russia send another space freighter to orbital station

Russia will launch Tuesday a Soyuz-U carrier rocket with a cargo spacecraft on board to deliver food, equipment and other supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), a Mission Control.

The Progress M-63 space freighter is scheduled for launch from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 1:03 p.m. GMT on February 5, the spokesman said. It is expected to deliver 2.5 metric tons of cargo to support the ISS operation. The automatic docking with the orbital station has been set for 2:38 p.m. GMT on February 7. The current 16th expedition on board the ISS comprises U.S. astronauts Peggy Whitson and Daniel Tani, and Russia's Yury Malenchenko.

The ISS crew will also see a new face, with flight engineer Daniel Tani being replaced by European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts. The flight has been repeatedly delayed since December 6 over problems with faulty fuel tank sensors and a radiator hose. The launch of the 24th shuttle mission to the ISS is still uncertain, however, due to weather concerns making yet another delay extremely likely.

Meanwhile, NASA said on Monday that the repeatedly-delayed Atlantis space shuttle launch had been set for February 7. During the upcoming mission, the crew members will carry out three spacewalks, installing and activating the $2 billion Columbus space laboratory, which has taken some 10 years to construct and is Europe's main contribution to the International Space Station (ISS).


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