The Progress 8 spacecraft lifted off on a Soyuz rocket at 12:37 a.m. CDT. About nine minutes later its solar rays and navigational antennas deployed in response to preprogrammed commands, and the umpiloted cargo carrier was safely in orbit.
Progress 8 is scheduled to dock with the space station early Saturday, where Expedition 5 crewmembers, Commander Valery Korzun, Astronaut Peggy Whitson and Cosmonaut Sergei Treschev, will begin unloading its cargo. The Progress can carry about 7,000 pounds into orbit, including fuel for the Zvezda Service Module's attitude control thrusters.
A series of rendezvous burns by the Progress 8 engines over the next three days will result in its docking to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at about 1:25 a.m. CDT Saturday over Central Asia. That port was vacated Tuesday when the Progress 7 was undocked with its load of trash and deorbited to a fiery destruction in the Earth's atmosphere.