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Russian supply ship launches on mission to International Space Station

An unmanned Russian cargo ship has lifted off successfully on a supply mission to the International Space Station.

A Soyuz-U booster rocket carrying the Progress MS-05 spacecraft blasted off as scheduled from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch complex in Kazakhstan.

The mission follows the botched launch on December 1 of the previous Progress ship, which crashed less than seven minutes after lift-off, spraying flaming debris over a sparsely populated area in southern Siberia near the border with Mongolia.

An official Russian investigation concluded that the failed launch was caused by a manufacturing flaw in the Soyuz booster's third-stage engine.

Prior to Wednesday's launch, space officials ran rigorous checks on the engines already built and conducted a comprehensive scrutiny of manufacturing facilities.

The launch went ahead without a hitch and the spacecraft entered a designated preliminary orbit en route to the space outpost. It's set to dock at the station on Friday.

A Dragon supply ship launched on Sunday by SpaceX is also set to arrive at the station this week.

The station is currently inhabited by Nasa astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, Andrei Borisenko, Sergei Ryzhikov and Oleg Novitskiy of Russia, and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

AP

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