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Russian Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station - 2003-08-31

A Russian space capsule carrying more than two tons of supplies has docked with the International Space Station. In addition to its regular shipment of cargo, the capsule delivered mail and music to the two men on the station.

The Progress spacecraft brought along the periodic delivery of food, water and fuel to the station, after blasting off Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Mission officials say the docking was done on automatic mode, with the crew supervising.

Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and his crewmate, U.S. astronaut Edward Lu, have been working in orbit for the past four months.

On this occasion, the service module carried satellite telephones to the space station. This decision was made to provide satellite communications facilities after the previous station crew landed nearly 500 kilometers off course on their return to earth in May.

It took search teams two hours to locate the three crewmembers, who were out of radio contact once back on earth.

Magazines, mail and parcels from relatives were also part of the latest shipment, but a mission control director near Moscow joked that the two men in space will have to be patient as these are at the bottom of the supply load.

Some comedy films and music recordings by Russian and U.S. artists have also been sent to the orbiting space station.

Russia has been alone in servicing the 16-nation station since the disintegration of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia as it returned to earth in February, killing all seven astronauts on board. That accident led the NASA space agency to ground all remaining shuttles until a detailed investigation could be carried out.

The latest Progress craft also delivered equipment that will be used by Pedro Duque of Spain, who is schedule to fly to the station in October, along with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri and American Michael Foale, to conduct experiments in space. They will replace the two-man crew now on board.