Robot astronauts.

I suppose automation just made the Space Shuttle obsolete (or, well, something like that). MSNBC reports that the latest supply ship to the ISS is unmanned:

The Progress 43 cargo ship blasted off at 10:38 a.m. ET from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in Central Asia. The robot resupply vehicle will dock at the space station’s Russian Zvezda service module on Thursday.

“There’s a little less than 3 tons of supplies, equipment, fuel and oxygen,” NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told He said the payload included about 104 pounds (47 kilograms) of science supplies and equipment from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Progress vehicles are disposable and routinely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere once their missions are complete.

Makes me think the people on the space station must be kinda lonely.