Cargo ship en route to International Space Station
Posted: February 2, 2003

The Soyuz rocket topped with Progress M-47 is rolled to the launch pad in preparation for Sunday's liftoff. Photo: Energia
A day after the Columbia disaster, an unmanned freighter carrying cargo for the International Space Station was successfully launched from Central Asia aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket today, NASA has confirmed. Officials said the routine resupply mission would go forward as planned despite the shuttle accident.

The Progress M-47 resupply ship lifted off on-time at 1259 GMT (7:59 a.m. EST) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and achieved orbit nine minutes later.

If all goes as planned, the craft will dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module on the back end of the station at 1450 GMT (9:50 a.m. EST) Tuesday. It will be the tenth Progress launched to the station.

The ninth Progress was discard from the station on Saturday, taking trash and unneeded items off the orbiting complex before it was deorbited.

The Progress M-47 cargo craft undergoes pre-launch processing. Photo: Energia
The new vessel is loaded with food, water and supplies for the station's residents. It also has parts for the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the Destiny laboratory, which experienced a power failure back in November and has been dormant during the Expedition 6. NASA Science Officer Don Pettit plans to install the new parts and test the Glovebox as soon as the Progress is unloaded.

Scientists hope that Pettit will return the Glovebox to operation, allowing it to be used in support all of the experiments planned for this Expedition.

In addition to Pettit, the Expedition 6 crew includes commander Ken Bowersox and Russian flight engineer Nikolai Budarin. This is their 71st day in space and 69th day aboard the station.

NASA says they were informed of the loss of Columbia and its crew about an hour after the tragedy.

Expedition 6 was scheduled to be replaced by the three-man Expedition 7 crew during a March mission by shuttle Atlantis. Plans to either exchange the crews or simply bring Expedition 6 back to Earth haven't been decided.

NASA officials said Saturday that the station would have enough supplies for the Expedition 6 crew to continue living on the complex through late June.