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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 16:01 EDT

Christmas Supplies Headed to Space Station

December 21, 2005

MOSCOW — An unmanned Russian cargo ship carrying supplies and Christmas gifts for the crew of the international space station blasted off Wednesday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a spokesman said.

The Progress M-55 was launched at 9:39 p.m. (1:39 p.m. EST), according to a duty officer with the Federal Space Agency who was not authorized to give his name.

In addition to 2.8 tons of food, water, books, DVDs and scientific equipment, the ship is also bringing cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and astronaut William McArthur chocolate, two red holiday caps and gifts from their families.

The ship is expected to dock Friday with the station orbiting about 220 miles above the Earth.

McArthur and Tokarev are in the third month of their six-month mission aboard the space station.

Russia’s Progress cargo ships and Soyuz capsules have been the station’s lifeline since the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. The shuttle program was suspended for more than two years. Discovery flew to the station in July, but problems with its insulation raised doubts about when the next shuttle would fly.

Later Wednesday, Russia was slated to launch a rocket carrying military and communications satellites into orbit from its northern Plesetsk cosmodrome.

On the Net:

Russian Federal Space Agency: http://www.federalspace.ru/

NASA: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov