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article imageFirst supply trip to space since Soyuz failure poised to launch

By AFP     Nov 14, 2018 in World

A US spaceship loaded with supplies for the International Space Station is poised to launch Thursday, marking the first such trip since a Soyuz rocket carrying three people failed last month.

At the last moment, NASA added some extra supplies for the three orbiting scientists, just in case. The next Soyuz launch, with three more astronauts on board -- one Russian, one Canadian and one American -- is planned for December 3.

The extra gear includes additional spares for the station's water recovery system and urine processor, a NASA spokesman told AFP.

Several such systems are already in place on the ISS, but the extras are meant to serve as backup in case the station goes through a period where no one is on board. The current crew of three is only slated to remain until January.

Astronauts have continually lived at the orbiting outpost since 2000, arriving and departing in crews of two to seven at a time.

The cargo will be transported to space on a Cygnus cargo ship, launched by an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, at 4:49 am (09H49 GMT) Thursday.

That is, if the weather cooperates. As of late Tuesday, the forecast was just 30 percent favorable, with thick clouds and rain likely to interfere with the launch plans, NASA said.

After the Soyuz rocket failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off -- the first such incident in the history of post-Soviet space travel -- Russia suspended all space flights.

The astronauts on board were not hurt. Russia has since blamed the problem on a sensor that was damaged during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome.

Russia is currently the only nation in the world capable of launching humans to space. The US capability ended in 2011 when the space shuttle program was retired after 30 years.

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