TIME Music

Thousands Truckin’ to Chicago for Final Grateful Dead Shows

Deadheads are shelling out for one more ride

(CHICAGO) — The Grateful Dead is closing the lid on its storied half-century of concerts this weekend in Chicago, where a museum has captured the band’s prankster heart by displaying its artifacts, skeletons-and-roses iconography included, in the shadow of a world-famous dinosaur.

Soldier Field, which was the last place legendary guitarist Jerry Garcia played with the band before his death in 1995, is hosting the final three shows of the short “Fare Thee Well” tour in what the remaining core members — rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh and percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann — say will be the last.

The lakefront stadium, just south of the Field Museum and the bones of Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex, will be a sea of tie-dyed shirts, and the sounds of bootleg concert tapes will fill the air in the parking lots. Certainly, there’ll be young people who never saw Garcia play among the tens of thousands of fans, but they’ll likely be outnumbered Deadheads who display more than a touch of grey.

Many of those who followed the band around decades ago — and can recite the exact number of shows they’ve seen as easily as they can their Social Security numbers — have become lawyers, accountants and, in at least one case, a member of the U.S. Senate.

“Yes, my wife and I are coming for the Saturday and Sunday shows,” said former comedian and avowed Deadhead Al Franken, who now represents Minnesota in Washington. “To me they represent a big part of my life, they are a touchstone for a long time and they still are.”

The Democrat began seeing the Dead about the time he was getting out of college in the early 1970s, and later became friends with Garcia and other members of the band when they appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” on which Franken was a cast member.

“I still listen to them pretty much every chance I get,” he said.

That so many older fans are coming in may help explain why the city heard few complaints after it nixed the idea of overnight camping sites near Soldier Field.

“I would not even have a car back in my San Francisco State days (and) I would find people to hitch rides with and find homes to sleep on the couch or on the floor,” said Rick Wolfish, a 59-year-old partner in a large accounting firm in Burlington, Vermont. “This trip I’m flying to a concert and staying at a Hilton hotel five blocks from Soldier Field.”

Deadheads are shelling out for one more Saturday night — from $100 Dead-themed dinosaur posters at the Field Museum created and signed by longtime Dead artist Stanley Mouse to pricey hotels. Hotel bookings are up more than 120 percent from last year’s July Fourth weekend, and the rates are 77 percent higher on average, according to travel booking website Orbitz.

The centerpiece of the Field Museum’s exhibit is Garcia’s favorite guitar, “Tiger.” On Tuesday, fans wore the same look of wonder on their faces as one sees in the people looking at the skull of Sue.

“This is history,” said Rebecca Ostrega, a 49-year-old Deadhead who brought her 10-year-old son. They both wore tie-dyed Dead shirts she bought at the museum and she had purchased several of the Mouse posters.

Tickets for the main attraction — where Trey Anastasio of Phish will tackle Garcia’s guitar parts alongside keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti — were no higher than $199 at face value, both through the old-style mail order system or Ticketmaster. For those seeking to get into the sold-out shows, tickets on the secondary market StubHub ranged from $295 to $5,000 for one night, with an average price of about $600. Wolfish paid $200 total for three nights behind the stage — a “miracle,” he said.

No matter the price, fans say it’s worth the chance to reconnect with both an important band and the family-like community.

“More than anything this is going to be a celebration of the whole Grateful Dead thing, the camaraderie, the outlook of life,” said Bill Stanley, who is a director of the Gantz Family Collections Center at the Field Museum.

He’s attended more than 100 shows, including Garcia’s last one. He not only recalls those “magical” experiences, but the loneliness he felt when he was in the mountains of Tanzania in August 1995 and received an airgram from his girlfriend that read, “I hope you are sitting down. We lost Jerry.”

“Everybody here was able to call the person who turned them onto the Dead (but) I had no one to reach out to,” he said.

This weekend, though, he expects all those old feelings a Dead concert used to elicit to return: “People are going to be walking past, thinking, ‘Look at those old hippies. I’ll be grateful when they’re dead.'”

TIME France

France Says No to WikiLeaks Founder’s Bid for Asylum

The country won't take Julian Assange

(PARIS) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has failed in a bid to win asylum in France.

Assange wrote a letter to French President Francois Hollande published in Le Monde on Friday, appealing to France’s history as a beacon for the repressed. He noted that WikiLeaks recently revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on Hollande and his two predecessors and leading French companies.

Hollande quickly said “no.” In a statement, his office noted that Assange is under a European arrest warrant and his life is not in imminent danger.

The exchange came after prominent French voices, including soccer legend Eric Cantona and economist Thomas Piketty, appealed for France to grant haven to Assange and NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

French Justice Minister Christine Taubira suggested in a televised interview last week that she would be open to the idea.

But Hollande’s statement Friday made it clear that won’t happen. “A deep examination found that given the judicial elements and the material situation of Mr. Assange, France cannot follow through on his request,” he said.

Assange has spent three years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning about alleged sexual assaults. Assange denies the allegations and believes extradition to Sweden would be the first step in efforts to send him for prosecution in the U.S.

He and his group angered the U.S. government by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents.

In his letter to Hollande, he said that the mother of his youngest child is French. He said he is restricted to a space of 5.5 square meters, lacking access to “fresh air, sun … as well as any possibility to go to a hospital,” and noted that police say round-the-clock surveillance of him has cost 11.1 million pounds ($17.6 million).

TIME Greece

Greek Voters Confused by Referendum Wording as Vote Nears

People don't know what they're voting for

(ATHENS, Greece) — Greek voters facing a momentous vote Sunday that may determine the country’s future in Europe can be forgiven for scratching their heads when they read the ballot question that has to be marked with a “yes” or a “no.”

The question does not address the future of the euro currency — which many believe is at stake — or the future of Greece’s relationship with the 28-nation European Union.

Instead, it asks the following:

“Should the plan of agreement, which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the Eurogroup of 25.06.2015 and is comprised of two parts that constitute their unified proposal be accepted?

The first document is entitled “Reforms For The Completion Of The Current Program And Beyond” and the second “Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis.”

To complicate matters, the offer being voted on is no longer on the table, having been linked to a bailout package that expired earlier this week, and it is clear that many Greeks have not read the complex documents referred to.

Critics point out that many people in rural villages with little or no Internet access will not find an easy way to access the documents. Others without special training may find them overly technical and difficult to comprehend.

One person with training, a 21-year-old law student, said she understood the question and had studied the supporting documents, including the tax sections, before deciding to vote “no.” She said Greeks comprehend that the referendum is not just about the matters spelled out on the ballot, but deal with the broader issue of how European Union policy has shaped Greece during the austerity era.

So do most people understand the ballot question? Here is a sampling of responses when the question was read to citizens Friday:



Yanis Koutzouvelis, 19: “I understand the question in general but the question is not clear because we don’t know the consequences of voting ‘no’ and we don’t know if it means going out of the eurozone. I mean I don’t know in the end if the ‘yes’ or the ‘no’ is in reference to the drachma (Greek’s former national currency) or not. I will look at a lot of television and radio news but it’s super-difficult to understand what it really means.”



Andreas Simeou, 56: “With that question the government misleads the people. It’s not the fault of the Greek people. Now the government is giving the whole weight to the people and it always says it’s someone else’s fault that everything is a mess here.”



Maria Gaspariatou, 42: “No one really cares what’s written on the ballot and what the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ means. They really know what it means from their lives. Like my grandmother, my granddad, my parents who are pensioners, they really know why they have to vote ‘no.’ The people understand that the whole last five years it was poverty and now we have to decide for ourselves. We have very difficult times and the Greek people know that. And they are ready go through that and have a better future.”



Maria Koleti, 57: “It’s only difficult for the people to understand if they are silly. There was so much analysis on the TV and in the newspapers explaining the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ so no one has problems understanding what the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ means on the ballot. The only people who don’t understand are those who don’t want to understand. We know what it means.”



Stratos Harvis, 46: “I’m not so informed and not so into that stuff so for me it’s difficult to understand that question. But the last years in Greece it was very difficult for the people, so I would vote ‘no’. It’s tricky for someone who’s not involved, the questions are tricky because the way they are written a lot of people won’t understand. You have to have studied economics.”



Katerina Bakola, 46, laughing as she heard the text of the question: “I don’t think the way it is posed is difficult to understand. For me the question was obvious. At least I understand the questions and I think all the people understand.”

TIME Aviation

Solar-Powered Plane Lands in Hawaii After Record-Breaking 5-Day Journey

APTOPIX Solar Plane
Marco Garcia—AP The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, circles the Kalaeloa Airport in Kapolei, Hawaii, on July 3, 2015.

Solar Impulse 2 flies without fuel

(KAPOLEI, Hawaii) — A plane powered by the sun’s rays landed in Hawaii Friday after a record-breaking five-day journey across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.

Pilot Andre Borschberg and his single-seat aircraft landed at Kalaeloa, a small airport outside Honolulu. His 120-hour voyage from Nagoya broke the record for the world’s longest nonstop solo flight, his team said. The late U.S. adventurer Steve Fossett set the previous record of 76 hours when he flew a specially-designed jet around the globe in 2006.

But Borschberg flew the Solar Impulse 2 without fuel. Instead, its wings were equipped with 17,000 solar cells that charged batteries. The plane ran on stored energy at night.

The plane’s ideal flight speed is about 28 mph though that can double during the day when sun’s rays are strongest. The carbon-fiber aircraft weighs over 5,000 pounds or about as much as a minivan or mid-sized truck.

Borschberg and his co-pilot Bertrand Piccard have been taking turns flying the plane on an around-the-world trip since taking off from Abu Dhabi in March. After Hawaii, it will head to Phoenix and then New York.

The project, which began in 2002 and is estimated to cost more than $100 million, is aimed at highlighting the importance of renewable energy and the spirit of innovation. Solar-powered air travel is not yet commercially practical, however, given the slow travel time, weather and weight constraints of the aircraft.

The plane is visiting Hawaii just as the state has embarked on its own ambitious clean energy project. Gov. David Ige last month signed legislation directing Hawaii’s utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy resources by 2045. The utilities currently get 21 percent of their power from renewable sources.

Borschberg took naps and practiced yoga to cope with the long hours.

“Yoga is a huge support for this flight above the Pacific: it positively affects my mood and mindset,” he wrote in a tweet from the plane on Thursday.

TIME France

Surrogate Children Get Legal Recognition in France

Until now, surrogate children were deprived of any legal connection to their parents

(PARIS) — France’s highest court has granted legal recognition to surrogate children, in a major turnaround that will make their daily lives easier and could lead to greater acceptance of new forms of families.

The Cour de cassation ruled Friday that, while surrogacy will remain banned in France, children born abroad through this practice will now be legally tied to their parents and will be granted birth certificates and immediate means to prove their French citizenship.

Surrogacy can involve a woman carrying an embryo created by in vitro fertilization using another woman’s egg and her partner’s sperm. In some cases, such as those involving male gay couples, the surrogate mother is also the genetic mother of the child.

Until now, surrogate children were deprived of any legal connection to their parents, or any civil status in France. They were considered as children born from unknown legal parents, since their foreign birth certificates weren’t recognized. One lawyer has described them as “ghosts of the republic.”

Unlike other children born abroad to a French parent, these children couldn’t get automatic ID cards or passports, or register for state health care or other services.

This exposed them to frequent problems, because many basic tasks are impossible in France without an ID or authorization from a legal parent.

In addition to potential psychological troubles due to their incomplete identities, the children were also deprived of eventual inheritance, and faced major imbroglios in case of a divorce or the death of one parent.

Many hope that Friday’s ruling will increase the options for infertile and same-sex couples in France. For-profit sperm banks are forbidden, as is surrogate parenthood, seen by many as turning the womb into a commodity.

Europe’s top human rights court last year ordered the country to change the law on surrogate children, saying France’s refusal to recognize them was “an attack on the child’s identity, for which descent is an essential component.”

Until recently, the Cour de cassation had repeatedly refused to give surrogate children any legal recognition, saying they were born abroad from a “fraudulent process.”

In Friday’s ruling, the top judges had to take into account the European decision. They found that their previous case law was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, and so decided to allow the transcription of the foreign birth certificates into the French civil status.

Two separate cases leading to the new ruling involved a gay couple and a single man who had gone to Russia to have babies through surrogate mothers.

The Cour de cassation said that the French birth certificates will have to mention as the fathers the men who recognized the children abroad. The mothers listed on the birth certificate will be the surrogate women who gave birth to the children. (Is this for these two cases specifically, or in general? Would it be the same if a French woman’s egg was used for IVF into a foreign surrogate?)

The overwhelming majority of the French parents using surrogacy abroad are heterosexual couples. But the judges left open the possibility of changes for heterosexual parents as well.

TIME 2016 Election

Hispanic Leaders Say Republican Party Must Condemn Trump

Trump Organization Inc. CEO Donald Trump Announces Whether He Will Run For President
Bloomberg/Getty Images Donald Trump announcing he will seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on June 16, 2015.

Some Republican candidates are avoiding the issue

(WASHINGTON) — Hispanic leaders are warning of harm to Republican White House hopes unless the party’s presidential contenders do more to condemn Donald Trump, a businessman turned presidential candidate who’s refusing to apologize for calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers.

Trump’s comments, delivered in his announcement speech last month, have haunted the GOP for much of the last two weeks and dominated Spanish-language media. It’s bad timing for a Republican Party that has invested significantly in Hispanic outreach in recent years, given the surging influence of the minority vote.

Yet several Republican candidates have avoided the issue altogether, while those who have weighed in have declined to criticize Trump as strongly as many Hispanic leaders would like.

“The time has come for the candidates to distance themselves from Trump and call his comments what they are: ludicrous, baseless and insulting,” said Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican who leads the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership. “Sadly, it hurts the party with Hispanic voters. It’s a level of idiocy I haven’t seen in a long time.”

The political and practical Trump-related fallout has intensified in recent days.

The leading Hispanic television network, Univision, has backed out of televising the Miss USA pageant, a joint venture between Trump and NBC, which also cut ties with Trump. On Wednesday, the Macy’s department store chain, which carried a Donald Trump menswear line, said it was ending its relationship with him. Other retailers are facing pressure to follow suit.

The reaction from Republican presidential candidates, however, has often been far less aggressive.

In a recent interview on Fox News, conservative firebrand Ted Cruz insisted that Trump should not apologize.

“I like Donald Trump,” said Cruz, a Texas senator who is Hispanic. “I think he’s terrific. I think he’s brash. I think he speaks the truth. And I think that NBC is engaging in political correctness that is silly and that is wrong.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said simply that Trump is “wrong.”

“Maybe we’ll have a chance to have an honest discussion about it on stage,” Bush said last weekend while campaigning in Nevada.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who often talks about his re-election margins with Latino voters, called Trump’s comments “wholly inappropriate” during a news conference. In a subsequent radio interview, Christie described Trump as “a really wonderful guy (who’s) always been a good friend.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who declined to address Trump’s comments directly for more than two weeks, took a more pointed tone in a statement Thursday evening. “Trump’s comments are not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive,” said Rubio, a Hispanic. “Our next president needs to be someone who brings Americans together — not someone who continues to divide.”

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday: “I don’t think Donald Trump’s remarks reflect the Republican Party.”

Among others, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former technology executive Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have been silent.

“We’re listening very, very closely, not just what candidates say but what they don’t say — the sins of commission and the sins of omission,” said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, who called Trump’s comments “xenophobic rhetoric.”

Trump is showing no sign of backing down.

“My statements have been contorted to seem racist and discriminatory,” he wrote in a message to supporters on Thursday. “What I want is for legal immigrants to not be unfairly punished because others are coming into America illegally, flooding the labor market and not paying taxes.”

“You can count on me to keep fighting,” he continued.

In his announcement speech, Trump said Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Such rhetoric resonates with some of the Republican Party’s most passionate voters, who have long viewed illegal immigration as one of the nation’s most pressing problems. Yet GOP leaders have urged conservatives to adopt a more welcoming tone in recent years as Hispanic voters increasingly sided with Democrats.

Not since the 2004 re-election campaign of President George W. Bush has a Republican presidential candidate earned as much as 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Mitt Romney got a dismal 27 percent in the 2012 contest against President Barack Obama.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton cast Trump’s remarks as “emblematic” of a larger perception within the Republican Party.

“A recent entry into the Republican presidential campaign said some very inflammatory things about Mexican immigrants,” she said in an interview last month. “Everyone should stand up and say that’s not acceptable.”

Meanwhile, the attention has helped Trump sell some books. “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” first published in 1987, and a release from 2007, “Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life,” were both in the top 2,000 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list as of midday Thursday. “Think Big,” co-written by Bill Zanker, was Amazon’s top seller for personal finance.

TIME animals

This Cat Survived a 28-Mile Ride in the Engine of a Pickup Truck

Cat in Engine
Darren Tynan—Hackettstown Police Department/AP This photo provided by the Hackettstown Police Department shows a cat after it was freed from the engine compartment of a pickup truck at the Mars Chocolate North America plant in Hackettstown, N.J., on July 2, 2015.

This is one lucky cat

(HACKETTSTOWN, N.J.)—A cat has been rescued from the engine of a pickup truck after a 28-mile ride from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

Unbeknownst to the driver, the orange and white feline had crawled into the engine compartment. It was taken on a ride Thursday from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to the Mars Chocolate North America plant in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

Employees there heard the cat’s meows and called police.

The cat was freed from the fan blades with the help of the town’s public works department and Mars employees.

The cat ran off but was soon caught by police and turned over to an animal control officer. It wasn’t injured.

TIME Greece

Poll Shows Even Split Ahead of Greek Referendum

The survey shows 41.5% will vote "Yes" and 40.2% will vote "No"

(ATHENS, Greece) —The brief but intense campaign in Greece’s critical bailout referendum ends Friday, with simultaneous rallies in Athens for “Yes” and “No” supporters in what an opinion poll shows will be a very close race.

The poll published in To Ethnos newspaper showed the “Yes” campaign slightly in the lead but well within the margin of error. It also showed an overwhelming majority — 74 percent — want the country to remain in Europe’s joint currency, the euro, compared to 15 percent who want a national currency.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the referendum last weekend, asking Greeks to decide whether they should accept creditor reform proposals in return for vitally needed bailout funds. He is advocating a “No” vote on Sunday.

But those proposals are no longer on the table after negotiations with European creditors broke down last weekend and Greece’s bailout expired on Tuesday, meaning the country no longer has access to the rescue loans.

The “Yes” campaign says the referendum is in fact a vote on whether Greece wants to remain in the euro and in Europe. The government rejects this as scaremongering, saying a “No” vote will put it in a better bargaining position and will not lead Greece to leave the eurozone.

The survey conducted by ALCO found 41.5 percent will vote “Yes” on Sunday and 40.2 percent saying they will vote “No,” with 10.9 percent undecided. The rest said they would abstain or leave their ballots blank.

When discounting those who say they will case blank ballots or abstain, those intending to vote “Yes” came to 44.8 percent compared to 43.4 percent who will vote “No” and 11.8 percent undecided.

The survey interviewed 1,000 people nationwide on June 30-July 1 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

The referendum campaign will wrap up Friday evening with rallies by the two sides, to be held 800 meters (875 yards) apart in central Athens. Tsipras is set to speak at the “No” rally in the capital’s main Syntagma Square outside Parliament, while the “Yes” rally will be held at the nearby Panathenian Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1894.

The vote is set to be one of the most important in Greece’s modern history, but many voters are confused about what’s at stake. The government vehemently denies a “No” vote would force the country out of the euro, but most opposition parties and many European officials have said this could be the case.

“The referendum is unclear in the way it is being phrased, so I interpret this ambiguity as meaning we might stay in Europe or not,” said Apostolos Foutsitzis, a 43-year-old medical scanner operator in the northern city of Thessaloniki. He said he will vote “Yes” because he wants Greece to remain in Europe.

Much of the ambiguity arises from the complicated question that will be printed on the ballot paper.

Greeks are being asked to reply to the following question:

“Must the agreement plan be accepted which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the Eurogroup of 25 June 2015 and is comprised of two parts which make up their joint proposal?

“The first document is titled ‘reforms for the completion of the current program and beyond’ and the second ‘Preliminary debt sustainability analysis’.”

Then voters are asked to tick either the “not approved/no” box, which is placed above the “approved/yes” box.

The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, is to rule Friday on a motion brought by two private citizens asking the court to rule the referendum illegal.

The vote comes after a week of bank closures, with Greeks restricted to daily withdrawals of 60 euros ($67) — although in practice this has been reduced to 50 euros as most automatic teller machines have run out of 20 euro notes.

Some banks have been opened to allow pensioners without ATM cards withdraw a maximum 120 euros for the week, with crowds of elderly people waiting outside the doors for hours to get inside.

Capital controls were imposed on Monday to staunch the hemorrhaging of funds from the country’s lenders as worried Greeks rushed to ATM machines after Tsipras’ referendum announcement last weekend.

“Our efforts are focused on overcoming the crisis as fast as possible — with a solution that preserves the dignity and sovereignty of our people,” Tsipras said Thursday.

The popular 40-year-old prime minister argues a strong “No” vote will help Greece win a new deal with the eurozone’s rescue mechanism that would include terms to make the country’s 320 billion euro national debt sustainable.

He insisted a deal could be struck “within 48 hours” of the vote.

His argument, however, was dismissed by the head of the eurozone finance ministers’ group, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

“That suggestion is simply wrong,” Dijsselbloem told lawmakers in the Netherlands.

European officials and the Greek opposition have warned a “No” outcome Sunday could be tantamount to a decision to leave the euro.

“The consequences are not the same if it’s a ‘Yes’ or ‘No,'” French President Francois Hollande said.

“If it’s the ‘Yes,’ even if it’s on the basis of proposals that have already expired, negotiations can resume and I imagine be quickly concluded,” he said. “We are in something of an unknown. It’s up to the Greeks to respond.”

TIME China

A Magnitude-6.5 Quake Hits China’s Restive Far Western Region of Xinjiang

"Buildings were trembling and people rushed to the streets."

(BEIJING) — A magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook buildings in China’s far western region of Xinjiang on Friday, sending people out onto the streets, but there were no immediate reports of casualties from the sparsely populated area surrounding the epicenter.

The quake hit Pishan county in the Hotan region of Xinjiang at a depth of about 10 kilometers shortly after 9 a.m. Friday, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

“Buildings were trembling and people rushed to the streets,” said Jin Xingchang, an express courier in Hotan city, about 15 kilometers away from Pishan.

The mostly ethnic Muslim Uighur area of Pishan is at the southern edge of the Taklamakan desert near the border with India, and is abundant in mineral resources including coal, crude oil, natural gas and jade.

TIME russia

Russian Supply Ship Launched to International Space Station

The Russian Progress-M spacecraft is set on its launch pad at Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Stringer Shanghai —REUTERS The Russian Progress-M spacecraft is set on its launch pad at Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 1, 2015

The previous Progress launch in April failed and then a SpaceX attempt exploded

(MOSCOW) — A Russian rocket has successfully launched an unmanned cargo ship to the International Space Station, whose crew is anxiously awaiting it after the successive failures of two previous supply missions.

A Soyuz-U rocket blasted off as scheduled from Russia-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan, placing the Progress M-28M cargo ship into a designated orbit.

The previous Progress launch in April ended in failure, and on Sunday a U.S. supply mission failed too when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff. The success of Friday’s launch is essential for the station program, which has relied on Russian spacecraft for ferrying crews after the grounding of the U.S. shuttle fleet.

The next station crew’s launch has been pushed back from late May to late July after April’s failure.

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