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Russia Launches ISS Cargo After US Craft Explodes

  • VOA News

Russia successfully launched an unmanned rocket with supplies for the International Space Station from Kazakhstan on Wednesday, hours after a catastrophic explosion destroyed a similar mission in the United States.

A Soyuz rocket and Progress 57 cargo ship blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The cargo ship is expected to dock with the ISS later in the day.

On Tuesday, an unmanned commercial rocket with supplies and equipment for the space station burst into fiery fragments just seconds after liftoff from Wallops Island, in the U.S. state of Virginia off the Atlantic coast.

WATCH: Video of launch

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Orbital Sciences Corporation, the company contracted by the U.S. government to send supplies to the space station, said it will not launch another Antares rocket until the cause of Tuesday's explosion is determined.

"As far as next steps for the Antares, we will not fly until we understand the root cause and corrective action necessary to ensure it doesn't happen again," said Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Advanced Programs Group at Orbital Sciences Corporation.

No one on the ground was hurt. The U.S. space agency, NASA, said the International Space Station crew "is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies."

Orbital Sciences is one of two private companies NASA hired to fly cargo ships into orbit after the space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.

The International Space Station is a $100 billion research laboratory owned and operated by 15 nations. It depends on supply missions to continue functioning as it orbits about 418 km above Earth.

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