Progress, the Russian MS-04 cargo spaceship on its way to the International Space Station (ISS), malfunctioned Thursday shortly after launch. The precise nature of the Russian spaceship’s malfunction has not been made public by the Russian space agency at this time, but it has been said that communication with the Russian ISS cargo spaceship suddenly stopped 383 seconds into the craft’s flight.
Fortunately, the Progress spaceship was an unmanned craft, and nobody was injured in the incident, but it was carrying 2.5 metric tons of supplies to the six-person ISS crew when it broke up in the atmosphere.
As ABC News reports, the Russian ISS cargo spaceship was 118 miles above the Tuva region of Siberia when it broke up, and some locals reported that they heard a loud noise and saw a burst of light from above at the time of the spaceship’s malfunction. According to a Roscosmos report, the vast majority of the Russian ISS cargo spaceship’s debris burnt up upon reentry. However, some pieces are believed to have fallen back to Earth’s surface in what has been described as an “uninhabited area” near the Russian/Mongolian border.
The area where the Russian ISS cargo spaceship malfunctioned and broke up is described as being over 2,000 miles east of Moscow.
The Russian cargo spaceship was loaded with a variety of supplies destined to make a Saturday rendezvous with ISS, including 2.5 metric tons of water, food, fuel and other sundry items. Fortunately, the failed supply mission was not a critical one, and the six ISS crew members (three from Russia, two from the United States and one from the European Union) are not expected to suffer any hardships as a result of the Russian cargo spaceship’s catastrophic failure Thursday.
The Russian ISS cargo spaceship launched at 9:51 a.m. EST, shortly thereafter NASA tweeted out that Russia was having trouble with the trajectory of the craft.
About a half hour later, it was tweeted out that the fate of the cargo spaceship was “unknown,” followed shortly by the news of the Russian craft’s malfunction the mission’s failure.
As RT News reports, the Russian ISS cargo spaceship might have suffered problems at the point of the separation of the rocket’s third stage, at least according to NASA. However, at this time, the Russian space agency hasn’t recovered enough data to know for certain what precisely went wrong. The cargo spaceship did manage to make it into orbit, but its precise coordinates are unknown, at least according to NASA. It is also unknown if the Russian craft’s solar batteries are functional.
After the Russian ISS cargo spaceship mission failure, NASA was quick to reassure the American public (and the world) that those aboard ISS are safe and sound and have not been endangered by Thursday’s setback.
“Our astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts are safe aboard the station. Consumables aboard the station are at good levels.”
While today’s Russian cargo spaceship malfunction is not a big deal for the crew of the ISS, it is merely the latest in a string of failed Russian spaceship launches. In the last two years, the Russian space agency has seen three failed attempts to make it to space. In May 2015, another Progress cargo spaceship fell from the sky into the Pacific, and in May 2014, a Proton-M rocket exploded in the atmosphere while carrying a satellite to orbit.
Russia isn’t the only country that has recently suffered space-related problems. Currently, NASA is dealing with their supplier SpaceX being grounded. That situation has been ongoing since September when a SpaceX rocket exploded on a Cape Canaveral launch pad. The SpaceX company has said it will resume launches in December.
The ISS last had its supplies replenished in October by NASA shipper Orbital ATK, and it is expected to receive another delivery this month from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) December 9 launch. It is also customary for the ISS to have extra supplies stockpiled, just in case scheduled supply deliveries don’t make it.
In addition to the basic supplies that were lost as a result of the Russian ISS cargo spaceship malfunction, the ISS crew also reportedly lost their personal care packages from loved ones that were aboard the failed craft.
[Featured Image by Marc Ward/Shutterstock]