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The Columbia Disaster

Rocket Carrying Food to Station

February 03, 2003|From Reuters

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan — A Russian cargo rocket carrying food and fuel blasted off for the international space station on Sunday, a day after the loss of the space shuttle Columbia threw into doubt future missions to the orbiting complex.

"The launch has gone ahead as planned. So far, everything is fine," said a spokesman at ground control just outside Moscow. The unmanned Progress rocket, traveling on a mission scheduled before the Columbia tragedy, is to dock Tuesday.

Russian experts, speaking at the launch at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppes, said the Columbia disaster could prove a serious setback for the ambitious space station program, a joint project of the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency.

Sergei Gorbunov, a spokesman for Russia's space agency, said work on the $100-billion station would be reduced until launches of U.S. shuttles, used for heavy payloads, could be resumed.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday February 08, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 14 inches; 520 words Type of Material: Correction
Shuttle payload -- A Reuters article about a Russian cargo rocket, published Monday in Section A, misstated the cargo capacity of the space shuttle. The shuttle can accommodate 32.5 tons of cargo, not 110 tons.

"Cosmonauts will be able to carry out various scientific experiments," Gorbunov told Itar-Tass news agency. "But we have to forget about further construction work on the station until launches of U.S. shuttles, used to carry large pieces of equipment, resume."

Shuttles can carry payloads of 110 tons, while Russian Progress supply ships can carry no more than 5.5 tons, Interfax news agency reported.

The Progress is carrying enough supplies to keep the station's crew -- two Americans and a Russian -- in orbit for two months beyond their scheduled March departure.

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