Russian Cargo Spacecraft Progress 65 Suffers Malfunction En Route To The ISS


News of a failed Russian cargo spacecraft mission to the International Space Station has come in. The unmanned Russian cargo spaceship Progress MS-04 (Progress 65 for NASA) was on its way to the International Space Station on Thursday, Dec. 1 and was supposed to dock with it on Saturday, Dec. 3 with 2.5 tons of food, clothing, water and other supplies.

According to reports, the cargo spacecraft broke up in the atmosphere after six minutes of flight, following unspecified trouble.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos said the cargo ship was lost at an altitude of 190 kilometers (118 miles) over the Tyva region in Siberia. Most of the debris had burned up while some parts fell into an uninhabited area on Earth.

After the liftoff at 8:51 p.m. local time (9:51 a.m. EST) from Russia's space launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Progress 65 was to enter orbit nine minutes later.

Unspecified Spacecraft Problem

Progress 65 was launched atop the Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur Space Center. However, 383 seconds after launch, the telemetry stopped transmitting data and radar stations gave no clue whether the cargo vehicle was hitting the calculated orbit, said Roscosmos.

"According to preliminary information, the contingency took place at an altitude of about 190 kilometers over [a] remote and unpopulated mountainous area of the Republic of Tyva," Roscosmos said.

An analysis of the contingency is being conducted by the space agency. According to NASA, Progress 65 seemed to have developed problems during the third stage operation.

ISS Not Affected

However, the cargo ship's crash will not hit the normal operations of the ISS as the supplies including food are well-stocked.

To replenish the supplies, the space agency of Japan is sending a supply rocket in the second week of December, according to NASA. NASA's own shipper Orbital ATK delivered supplies to the space station in October.

Among the Expedition 50 crew, there are three Russian cosmonauts: Andrey Borisenko, Sergey Ryzhikov and Oleg Novitskiy. The NASA astronauts are Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough. Thomas Pesquet of European Space Agency is the sixth member.

Series Of Botched Rocket Launches

Progress 65 is the fourth casualty in terms of unmanned Russian rocket failures in a span of two years. In 2014, a Proton-M rocket broke down after blastoff while transporting a satellite for cyber access in some parts of Russia.

In May 2015, a similar rocket broke apart eight minutes into the flight. The month before, a Progress M-27M rocket made it to orbit but lost contact with the ground and burned up.

In the United States, a SpaceX rocket carrying a satellite for providing internet access to Africa exploded in Florida in September.

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