Russian cargo spacecraft Progress carrying 6,000 pounds of food, fuel and scientific instruments for the crew at the International Space Station (ISS) has gone out of control and is likely to re-enter earth and crash anywhere.
The Progress M27M was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, April 28 but minutes later when the aircraft entered its preliminary orbit and deployed its solar panels, it lost touch with the ground control at a height of 418 -km above the Earth.
The Progress spacecraft was scheduled to dock with the ISS today, April 30, as six crew of ISS astronauts and scientists are awaiting to receive the cargo. “The Russian flight control team attempted to command the vehicle over four orbits flying over Russian ground sites with no success,” said NASA in a statement that may raise worried all over the world about its possible location.
If the spinning outofcontrol spacecraft bursn up on entering the earth’s surpface due to atmospheric pressure, it would be a great relief but if the fire lingers on until it crashes, then major tragedy awaits us.
However, Russian and NASA officials are hopeful that the spacecraft “will probably burn up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere”.
A Russian official confirmed that it has started descending and “has nowhere else to go” and a Russian space agency Roscosmos statement is still awaited on the issue. “It’s the first time that we have such a combination of emergency situations,” is all that the spokesman told media on condition of anonymity.
However, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is currently in China, said,”We’re all worrying about our cargo spacecraft,” on Twitter.
This is second of its kind accident to happen in the last eight months, after US-based Orbital ATK in October met with similar fate. Progress is carrying 2,769 kilograms of cargo, including 880 kilograms of fuel plus spare parts, experiment hardware and other supplies.
The ISS is staffed by rotating crews of six astronauts (US) and cosmonauts (Russian) it it has enough food for 4 months. The next SpaceX Dragon cargo ship, another Progress capsule and a Japanese HTV freighter, will carry cargo in the next one year to the International Space Station. On energy front, the ISS has enough fuel to last for one year.
Similar spacecraft known as Skylab fell on earth in the mid-1970s, making many people rush to safety or hilltops. In South India, many thronged Tirupati when the news of skylab crashing on earth reached them.
It may be critical but the Russian agency to pinpoint its location of fall but keeping track may help avert the danger and it is trying to re-establish contact with the spacecraft to divert its direction.
|First launch to ISS||2000|
|Launch site||Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan|
|Launch vehicle||Soyuz rocket|
|Length||7.4 m (24.3 ft)|
|Diameter||2.7 m (8.9 ft)|
|Launch mass||7,440 kg (16,402 lb)|
|Cargo mass||1,700 kg (3,748 lb)|
|Pressurized volume||7 m3 (247.2 ft3)|
|Length on orbit||6 months|
|Docking method/location||Automatic docking/Russian segment|
|Return method||Destructive reentry|