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Last Updated: Monday, 28 February, 2005, 19:24 GMT
Supply ship blasts off to station
Progress launch on top of a Soyuz rocket (AP)
The Progress spacecraft is carrying 2.5 tonnes of supplies
A Progress cargo ship has blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a mission to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS).

As well as delivering food to the ISS, the ship will also help prepare the station for a visit in May by the US space agency (Nasa) shuttle Discovery.

The unmanned Progress M-52 spacecraft lifted off on schedule at 1909 GMT.

The first shuttle launch since the Columbia tragedy will test a number of new safety measures on the orbiter.

These measures were unveiled in the wake of the 2003 loss of Columbia, an accident that killed seven astronauts.

International Space Station, AP
The shuttle will dock with the ISS
Progress will carry two high-resolution digital cameras, which can be used to photograph Discovery as it docks with the ISS.

The images will be relayed to ground control teams so engineers can check for any damage sustained by the orbiter during launch. It was undetected damage to Columbia's left wing that led to its destruction on re-entry.

The Progress spacecraft is also carrying 2.5 tonnes of food, water, fuel and research equipment for Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov and US astronaut Leroy Chiao, who have been on the station since October 2004.

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