Russian cargo ship will burn up in Earth's atmosphere

Cause of spacecraft failure remains unknown.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Apr 30, 2015
Russia'sProgress M-27M/59P, a cargo ship that launched from Kazakhstan early Tuesday morning, only to spin out of control on approach to the International Space Station (ISS), is falling back to Earth, where most of it will burn up in the planet's atmosphere.

Carrying three tons of supplies and equipment for the ISS, Progress started rapidly spinning after separating from the third stage Soyuz booster, which carried it to space.

Efforts by Russian engineers to regain control of the spacecraft so it could successfully dock on the ISS failed and were eventually abandoned.

Along with its three tons of resupply equipment, Progress will break apart upon re-entry sometime within the next two weeks. Some parts of the spacecraft could survive the plunge through the atmosphere and land on the ground.

But mission controllers cannot predict exactly when it will re-enter or where any surviving debris might land.

According to a NASA statement, "Russian ballistics specialists, working in conjunction with flight controllers in Mission Control Houston and ESA, are continuing to track the vehicle's path and will provide updates on its anticipated reentry date."

Progress is currently being tracked by theUnited States Air Force Joint Functional Component Command for Space's Joint Space Operations Center, which will observe it carefully as it enters the lower atmosphere.

All of Russia's Progress spacecrafts are returned to Earth through controlled re-entries as a precaution against fragments landing in populated areas.

Such a maneuver cannot be done with this Progress because it is in an unstable orbit and falling without the guidance of ground control.

Pointing out that Earth is three quarters water, CBS News Space Consultant William Harwood said any surviving fragments will likely fall into one of our oceans.

"And while I can't say that the chance of getting hit by debris is zero, it's very close to zero," he stressed.

Progress's plunge through the atmosphere will not pose any threat to the ISS or to astronauts onboard.

The ISS has enough food, water, and equipment to last through early August. Two resupply missions have already been scheduled--a SpaceX Dragon capusle will launch June 19, and aJapanese HTV will head for the ISS on August 16.

 

 

 

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