Cape Canaveral, Florida: A Russian cargo ship will lift-off Sunday for the International Space Station (ISS), the first such mission following a launch accident in August. The Progress freighter, due for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, will be the first flight to the ISS since a failed launch of a similar unmanned freighter on 24 August.
Though the two rockets were dissimilar the crashed rocket had a motor which was nearly identical to those used aboard Russia's Soyuz rockets, which ferry astronauts and cosmonauts to the ISS, which raised safety concerns.
The ISS, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, currently orbits about 240 miles above the planet.
"The Russians said they had traced the cause (of the accident) to possible debris and clogging in the fuel supply line," said NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries. "They have done additional inspections and testing that they told us about to ensure it's ready to go."
With the phasing out of the American space shuttles this year, Russian Soyuz capsules are the only ships capable of flying crews to the station. NASA pays out about $350 million a year for the service.
Should Sunday's launch be successful, a new crew would fly to the ISS on 13 November arriving just six days before the current crew is scheduled to depart. Their replacements would launch between December 21 and 26.
Should Sunday's launch fail, then the ISS would remain untended for the first time since November 2000. The station has been permanently staffed since the first live-aboard crew arrived on 2 November 2000.
The new cargo ship is filled with 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies, including a pair of iPads.