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Unmanned Russian Rocket Docks With Space Station - 2003-02-04

An unmanned Russian spacecraft successfully docked with the orbiting International Space Station on Tuesday, bringing fuel and supplies to the the two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut aboard the station.

The routine docking of the Russian craft was watched with much anticipation, coming so soon after the loss of the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia.

It was a smooth trip for Russia's Progress cargo rocket, which docked with the International Space Station high above Earth on Tuesday.

Russia sends three supply shipments to the station each year, under its agreement with the other partners in the International Space Station project.

The Russian flights take on new significance with U.S. shuttles now grounded while officials investigate the Columbia disaster.

Officials from the United States, Russia and elsewhere have discussed possibly increasing the Russian flights. But the Russian spacecraft are much smaller than the shuttle, and the Russian space program does not have the money to do much more than it is already doing.