Disaster for Roscosmos as their Progress cargo ship breaks apart in the atmosphere en route to the International Space Station.
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What went wrong?
Launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 9:51am ET, the Progress ship was due to dock with the ISS and deliver 2400kg of supplies and equipment to the crew on board. Unfortunately the telemetry exchange was lost around 6 minutes after launch on the Soyuz rocket and the ship burned up in the atmosphere with its cargo. The Roscosmos media service immediately stated that this would not affect future missions in any way.
“As a result of an abnormal situation, the loss of the Progress cargo ship took place at an altitude of 190 kilometers [some 118 miles] above an unpopulated mountainous area in Tuva; most of the fragments burned up in the [Earth’s] atmosphere, according to preliminary data,” – Roscosmos press service.
The debris supposedly fell around the Republic of Tuva in southern Siberia, a sparsely populated region meaning that it would be highly unlikely to have caused any damage to property or casualties. Emergency teams have been scrambled to hunt for debris in the areas they project might be affected.
“The loss of the cargo ship will not affect the routine operations of the ISS and the life of the crew.”
Officials at NASA have also stated that the astronauts on board will not suffer as a result, as they do have a large stockpile of supplies. The next mission to resupply the station is due to launch next week, with another planned for the New Year. JAXA, the Japanese space agency are due to launch next week and will be on high alert after this incident.
This isn’t the first time Russia have had problems with resupply missions. In April 2015 they lost control of another Progress ship as it begun to spin wildly out of control before burning up in the atmosphere. In 2011 they also lost a ship in a similar style as today, when the third stage burn failed and the ship was lost. Thankfully these were all unmanned craft and nobody was hurt.
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