Failed Russian Spacecraft Progress Burns Up On Re-entry

An unmanned Russian spacecraft that lost communication en route to the International Space Station (ISS) has fallen back to Earth over the central part of the Pacific Ocean. Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement that the cargo ship entered Earth’s atmosphere about 2:00 AM GMT on Friday. The Russian spacecraft, named Progress M-27M, was loaded with over three tons of food, supplies and fuel for the ISS crew.

Russian spacecraft ‘ceased to exist’

Roscomsmos said that the spacecraft “ceased to exist” upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The space agency said that the capsule entered over the central part of the Pacific ocean, but did not reveal coordinates. There were no reports of its fragments being spotted. Most of the capsule was expected to burn up during the re-entry, but small fragments might have survived and splashed into the ocean.

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“Only a few small pieces of structural elements could reach the planet’s surface,” said Roscosmos. Most similar-sized spaceships burn up in the atmosphere or splash in the ocean.  The cargo ship was launched aboard the Soyuz rocket on April 28th from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. But the Russian spacecraft lost communication with the control room, so it could not be directed to its destination.

The problem was in Soyuz rocket

Roscosmos had lost all hope that that capsule would be able to dock at the space station. But engineers tracked it as the spacecraft plummeted toward Earth. Six astronauts aboard the ISS are in no danger of running out of essential supplies, though. The next cargo capsule is planned to be launched in June by the U.S.-based SpaceX.

Sources told Russian news agency Interfax that there was no issue in the supply vessel. Instead, the accident was caused by a problem in the Soyuz rocket that was carrying the Progress M-27M vessel. The rocket had exploded a few seconds before the capsule was due to separate.