Russian craft set to blast off on delayed mission

MOSCOW (AP) ? A Russian cosmonaut says the three-man U.S.-Russian crew is thinking positively as they prepare to blast off for the International Space Station.

The mission had been delayed for two months after a failed launch of an unmanned cargo ship in August. The upper stage of the Soyuz booster rocket that carries the cargo ships into orbit is similar to that used to launch astronauts.

Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov said Saturday that the crew “has no black thoughts and full confidence in our technology.”

Their Soyuz craft is to lift off from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early Monday (0414GMT, 11:14 p.m. EST Sunday).

They arrive at the orbiting station just in time to prevent it from being temporarily abandoned when the three men currently there return to Earth.