ISS resupply mission ‘fails’, craft hurtling to Earth
Washington: An unmanned Russian spacecraft loaded with cargo for the International Space Sation has gone out of control and is probably going to crash into the earth’s atmosphere soon, said media reports and NASA on Wednesday.
The spacecraft is carrying 6,000 pounds or 2721.5 kg of food, fuel and materials for scientific experiments for the crew at the International Space Station (ISS).
But the failed attempt will not put the six ISS crew members at risk.
“The astronauts have plenty of provisions, enough to last for months,” NASA said.
The station’s current Expedition 43 crew includes three Russians, two Americans and one Italian astronaut.
According to NASA, “the Russian flight control team attempted to command the vehicle over four orbits flying over Russian ground sites with no success”.
Currently spinning out of control in orbit, the spacecraft “will probably burn up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere”.
According to Space.com, the Russian space agency Roscosmos is scrambling to regain control of a robotic Progress 59 cargo ship that appears to have suffered a serious malfunction shortly after launching into orbit early on April 25.
“Russian flight controllers have abandoned plans to attempt to dock the cargo ship with the ISS,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said in a NASA TV update.
That docking is now “indefinitely postponed,” Navias added.
The only way to save the spacecraft now is for astronauts on board the ISS to attempt to take manual control of the runaway spaceship.
“(But) trying to stabilise it manually would be extremely risky. You could destroy the station and kill the crew,” the reports added.
“Russian flight controllers are continuing attempts to communicate with and troubleshoot issues with the Russian Progress 59 cargo spacecraft as it makes additional passes tonight over Russian ground stations,” NASA added.
The ISS Progress 59 cargo spacecraft was launched successfully from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early on April 25.
After it separated from the Soyuz booster rocket, Russian flight controllers were unable to confirm the health of all the spacecraft’s systems, including the deployment of its navigational antennae and docking system, the US space agency pointed out.
A planned rendezvous with the ISS six hours later has been postponed for April 30 but it is now unclear whether it will happen at all.
That next flight, which will be the seventh SpaceX commercial resupply services mission to the space station, is not scheduled to take off before June 19.