Russian Progress supply ship blasts off on space station mission (UPDATED)

Editor's note...
  • Posted at 12:05 PM, 10/27/10: Russian Progress supply ship blasts off on space station mission
  • Updated at 12:15 PM, 10/27/10: Adding dry cargo to Progress supply list
    The Progress M-08M cargo ship roars to life Wednesday on its launching pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Photo: NASA TV)
An unmanned Russian cargo ship loaded with three tons of supplies blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday at 11:11:49 a.m. EDT (15:11:49 GMT) and set off after the International Space Station.

Liftoff was timed for roughly the moment Earth's rotation carried the launch pad into the plane of the space station's orbit and as luck would have it, the lab complex was almost directly over Baikonur.

The Expedition 25 crew -- commander Douglas Wheelock, Shannon Walker, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Alexander Kaleri, Oleg Skripochka and Scott Kelly -- hoped to catch a glimpse of the rocket climbing toward space through early evening darkness in Kazakhstan and Wheelock reported later that Yurchikhin was able to film the ascent.

The Progress M-08M spacecraft is loaded with 2,804 pounds of dry cargo, 1,918 pounds of propellant for the station's Russian maneuvering thrusters, 498 pounds of water and 1,100 pounds of oxygen.

If all goes well, the cargo ship will carry out an automated approach to the space station, docking Saturday at 12:39 p.m. (16:39 GMT) at the Pirs compartment attached to the Zvezda command module.

At the Kennedy Space Center, meanwhile, engineers are pressing ahead with work to ready the shuttle Discovery for launch Monday on a mission to deliver a 21-foot-long cargo storage module to the space station that is loaded with some 8,500 pounds of equipment and supplies. Discovery also will bring up a spare coolant system radiator.

The shuttle's six-member all-veteran crew -- commander Steven Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe, Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt and spacewalkers Timothy Kopra and Alvin Drew -- plans to fly to the Kennedy Space Center from Houston on Thursday to prepare for launch.

The countdown is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. (19:00 GMT) Friday. Liftoff is targeted for 4:40:27 p.m. (20:40:27 GMT) Monday.