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Two launches successfully put payloads into orbit

A Soyuz launch vehicle has successfully launched a Progress resupply capsule on a path to the International Space Station (ISS). It is the 50th Progress capsule launched to the ISS.

The 11 February launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, puts the Progress on a relatively direct path to the ISS, previously flown by only one other resupply mission. Normal flight paths require two to three days to rendezvous with the ISS.

The Progress will dock with around 1, 360kg (3,000lb) of spare parts, in addition to water, thruster propellant and oxygen. Eventually, after being offloaded, Progress will be refilled with waste, decouple from the ISS and left to burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

Three additional Progress flights are planned in 2013.

In another 11 February launch, an Atlas V has sent the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) into orbit from Vandenberg AFB, California. One upper-stage engine firing remains as of the time of writing, though all is reportedly successful to this point.

The Atlas flew in 401 configuration, with a 4m payload fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single RL-10 engine in the Centaur upper stage, indicating a relatively light payload.

LDCM is meant to replace Landsat 5, an earth-observation satellite that has been functional in orbit since 1984. Landsat data is one of the most common sources for earth imagery, and the data is frequently used worldwide.

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