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Monday, 26 February, 2001, 11:28 GMT
Space station prepares for supplies
AP Rocket launch at Baikonur
Baikonur is Russia's main launch facility
A rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday.

The spacecraft is carrying air, food, rocket fuel and equipment to fit out the platform's Russian-built Zvezda service module.

The cargo includes onions, garlic and citrus fruit for the crew, Russian space officials said.

The rocket lifted off at 0818 GMT and will dock with the space station on Wednesday.

Docking manoeuvre

The Russian and US crew of the space station had to move a craft already attached to the platform to make room for the new ship.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko undocked a Soyuz TM-31 from the docking port of the Zvezda module and flew it around the station to the docking port of the Zarya control module on Saturday.

"The manoeuvre went successfully," said a Russian mission control spokesman.

"The Soyuz TM-31 was separated from the Zvezda module at 1006 GMT and docked 30 minutes later at the Zarya module."

Crew change

The three men aboard the ISS are due to be relieved of their posts in March.

The US space shuttle Discovery is due to take off on 8 March and dock with the ISS on 9 March, carrying commander Yury Usachev and his US colleagues Susan Helms and James Voss.

The current ISS commander, Bill Shepherd, and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, will have spent four and a half months in space.

The space station is the largest man-made object in orbit, circling the planet at an altitude of about 400 kilometres (244 miles).

It weighs 112 tonnes and measures 51 metres (168.3 feet) in length and 72 metres (237.6 feet) in width, with a height of 27 metres (89.1 feet).

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See also:

08 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Rendezvous in space
04 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Night sky gets 'new star'
02 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Endeavour docks with ISS
01 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Shuttle Endeavour blasts off
18 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Fresh supplies for space station
02 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Crew enters historic home
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