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This weekend: First ever iPADS IN SPAAAACE

Station 'nauts get fondleslabs 'for entertainment'

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NASA will be streaming the live launch of a Russian Progress cargo spaceship this Saturday at 11pm BST, which will be carrying the precious cargo of food, oxygen, water and Apple iPads.

The launch is scheduled for 5:11am CDT from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and will be broadcast on NASA TV, which you can find here.

In amongst all the necessary stuff the current International Space Station crew needs will be the first fondleslabs in space.

"The Russians are flying two iPads on the next Progress. They're going to be used for entertainment purposes only," NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told collectspace.com on Tuesday.

Astronauts and cosmonauts already have Apple iPods and an iPhone on board the space station, as well as laptops, but these will be the first tablets.

Humphries said that NASA was interested in looking into their future use in space.

"The US folks in the station programme are taking a look at a number of different tablets and kind of comparing and contrasting them," he said. "They are hoping to be able to fly one or more of them next year, but as yet the evaluation is not complete."

The launch will be the first of a Progress craft since the ISS Progress 44 and its supplies and equipment were lost on August 24 due to a third stage engine failure.

The current Progress, number 45, will also be using a Soyuz booster, the rocket whose malfunctioning gas generator was blamed for the last accident.

The 44 crash followed other mishaps for the Russian space agency, including the a Rokot booster's failure to lift a military satellite into geosynchronous orbit in February and a Proton-M booster losing three satellites in December.

Despite the run of bad luck, the space agencies must be feeling more optimistic this time, as footage of the ISS Progress 45 docking with the space station to deliver its payload of 2.72 metric tonnes of food, fuel and supplies three days after launch will also be shown.

The docking procedure will start at 1.15am GMT on November 2. ®

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