MOSCOW — Russia on Sunday launched its first supply ship destined for the International Space Station since the embarrassing loss of a similar vessel in August raised questions about its space programme.
The unmanned Progress spacecraft took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1011 GMT on a Soyuz-U rocket, state television pictures showed. Minutes later it successfully went into earth orbit, Russian news agencies quoted mission control as saying.
The last launch of a Progress in August ended with the loss of the spacecraft when it plunged back into the Gorni-Altai region of Siberia after a technical failure with the Soyuz-U.
The failure resulted in the temporary grounding of the Soyuz, the mainstay of the Russian space programme and raised questions about Russia's status as the sole nation capable of taking humans to the ISS after the retirement of the US shuttle.
The Progress is due to dock with the ISS on Wednesday at 1140 GMT carrying much-needed supplies that include food, hygiene materials and medicine as well as scientific equipment.