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Russia launches Progress M-16M freighter to ISS

(Xinhua)

10:11, August 02, 2012

MOSCOW, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- A Russian Soyuz-U rocket carrying a Progress M-16M cargo ship blasted off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, according to Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos.

Roscosmos' live webcast showed the Soyuz-U rocket was launched at 11:35 p.m. Moscow time (1935 GMT) from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

The unmanned Progress M-16M is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 5:24 a.m. Moscow time (0124 GMT) on Thursday, using the shortest time ever.

According to Roscosmos, thanks to a new docking technology, the cargo ship will dock with the ISS at the fourth circle around Earth in less than six hours after the launch. Usually the docking takes two days.

The Progress M-16M will delivery to the ISS some 2,600 tons of supplies, including scientific equipment, medicine, food and water.

The Progress M-15M freighter undocked from the ISS early Tuesday morning. It is now on a three-week autonomous flight to conduct a series of experiments before being sunk in the Pacific Ocean.

Progress freighters have been the backbone of the Russian space cargo fleet for decades. Russia lost a Progress cargo ship in 2011 for the first time in 30 years.
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