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ISS-bound Cargo Spacecraft Doomed to Atmospheric Reentry

Posted By Jason Davis

29-04-2015 13:09 CDT

Topics: mission status, human spaceflight, International Space Station, Russian human spaceflight

The six crew members aboard the International Space Station will have to go without a scheduled delivery of food, supplies and fuel. NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos confirmed Wednesday that the Progress M-27M spacecraft, which spun out of control yesterday after reaching orbit, would not be docking with the station. The faulty vehicle is now in a decaying low-Earth orbit and doomed to atmospheric reentry.

“I think there was some kind of emergency that happened while the spacecraft was separating from the rocket,” said Igor Komarov, the head of Roscosmos, speaking through an interpreter. A later statement said the problem began 1.5 seconds before Progress was due to separate from the third stage of its Soyuz rocket, when flight controllers lost telemetry from the launch vehicle.

Live video from Progress showed it spinning in Earth orbit. Komarov said the spacecraft was completing a full revolution every four or five seconds.

Exactly what happened is still unclear, but there are now multiple objects in low-Earth orbit associated with the spacecraft. As of Wednesday morning, put the count at 16, including Progress and third stage of the rocket.

Assuming the first listed TLE, 15024A, is Progress, plugging the values into a tracking calculator results in an apogee of 255.5 kilometers  and a perigee of 186 kilometers. This is roughly half the altitude of the International Space Station. Progress’s orbit will continue to drop due to atmospheric drag until it is destroyed during reentry.

As for the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station, NASA says the crew is adequately stocked until after the next resupply flight. That flight is a SpaceX Dragon, currently scheduled for June.

Progress M-25M departure


Progress M-25M departure
Progress M-25M departs from the International Space Station on April 25, 2015.
See other posts from April 2015


Read more blog entries about: mission status, human spaceflight, International Space Station, Russian human spaceflight


Arbitrary: 04/29/2015 06:27 CDT

Out of the 2.3 tons of payload on this Progress, only 0.032 tons were science related. That's 1½%. Almost everything launched to that money monster which goes around and around and never gets anywhere, is just feeding status quo of human isolation on Earth. Maybe human spaceflight deserves a better destiny than feeding a monster that never gets anywhere? I'm looking forward to seeing the ISS burn burn burn! A space station has been tried, and it has failed.

Antonio: 04/30/2015 03:00 CDT

I think it was Sagan who said that observing how tomato grows in 0 g is NOT space exploration.

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