MOSCOW (AP) _ A supply rocket blasted off Wednesday toward Mir with a supply of oxygen for the Russian space station that was recently restaffed after being without a crew for eight months.

The unmanned Progress cargo module lifted off from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakstan just after midnight, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported, citing officials of the Russian space agency.

The supply ship also was carrying water, food and instruments to Mir and was bringing rocket fuel, which will be used to take Mir to a higher orbit, ITAR-Tass said.

The Progress was expected to dock with Mir on Friday.

The two cosmonauts aboard Mir, Alexander Kaleri and Sergei Zalyotin, arrived on the space station on April 6 in a mission to resuscitate the craft after eight months without a crew and turn it into an international commercial venture.

The Russian government had planned to dump Mir this spring because of a shortage of funds, but extended the mission after the Netherlands-based MirCorp signed a lease agreement on the station and provided funds for the new mission.

Kaleri and Zalyotin had patched a tiny leak that was detected months ago. The space station is now believed to be airtight.