| CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Dec 1 Russian flight
controllers were assessing whether a cargo ship that blasted off
on Thursday with more than 2-1/2 tons of food and supplies for
the International Space Station reached its intended orbit, NASA
Liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred
as planned at 9:51 a.m. EST (1451 GMT), a NASA TV broadcast
showed. But once the rocket's third stage began firing, radio
transmissions became garbled, leaving the fate of the Progress
"The Progress is apparently in a preliminary orbit, but what
that orbit is is unknown at this time," launch commentator Rob
Flight controllers also did not know whether the capsule
deployed its power-generating solar arrays, he added.
Either problem could doom the cargo run, which has become
more critical for the station since SpaceX, one of two U.S.
companies flying supplies to the station for NASA, has not yet
returned to flight following a Sept. 1 launchpad accident.
SpaceX is awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation
Administration, which oversees U.S. commercial space
transportation, to fly as early as Dec. 16 with 10 satellites
owned by Iridium Communications Inc.
SpaceX's next cargo flight for NASA is targeted for January.
Orbital ATK and Japan's space agency also fly supplies to
the station, a $100 billion laboratory that flies about 250
miles (418 km) above Earth.
Launch of a Japanese cargo ship is scheduled for Dec. 9.
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and