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Russian Soyuz Launches Progress Craft Carrying ISS Supplies

RIA Novosti

20:27 05/02/2014

MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Wednesday evening carrying a Progress-M resupply vehicle loaded with cargo for the International Space Station.

Russia's Progress M-22M, planned to dock with the station six hours after launch, will replenish the facility's food, water, air and fuel supplies.

The launch, televised live, was the first of over three dozen scheduled for the Russian space program this year.

The craft will also deliver flatworms, mosquito larvae and translucent Medaka fish for scientific research.

The fish will continue a joint Russian-Japanese experiment to examine closed ecological systems in space and simultaneously study muscle atrophy and bone loss in zero gravity.

Another Progress vehicle undocked from the station Monday in order to free up a docking port for the incoming craft and will be guided in a controlled descent to burn up over the Pacific Ocean next week.

In addition to supplies for the Russian segment, the Progress M-22M is carrying 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of American, European and Japanese cargo under a commercial contract.

A pair of companies including Russia's SOGAZ has insured the vehicle for $43 million in case of an accident.

Progress is one of five unmanned vehicles to have visited the station, along with the Japanese HTV, European ATV and American Cygnus and Dragon spacecraft.

Progress freighters have been launched more than 130 times since their debut in 1972 with only one failure, including over 50 missions to the ISS.

The engines on Progress also periodically boost the station's orbit.

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