Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Progress freighter believed lost

A Russian resupply spacecraft bound for the International Space Station has apparently failed to reach its intended orbit after a rocket failure following launch this morning.

Russian mission controllers just informed members of the station's six-person Expedition 28 crew that the Progress 44 ship may not have separated from the upper stage of a Soyuz rocket nearly six minutes into flight.

Russia's Mission Control Center in Korolev has attempted to regain contact with the spacecraft, "unfortunately in vain," the head of the MCC said, according to a translator on NASA TV.

"This is it for the moment. We'll try and figure out what has happened, what the cause was," he said.

"Thank you," replied Andrey Borisenko, the station commander. "This is very important that you let us know so quickly. Thank you from the entire crew."

The rocket failure reportedly occurred 5 minutes and 50 seconds after a 9 a.m. EDT launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The spacecraft carried nearly three tons of fuel, water, oxygen and supplies and was expected to dock at the station Friday morning.

Chris Edelen, the station flight director at NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston, told team members the status of the Progress was "not good" and it should be assumed lost, according to NASA TV.

NASA has not immediately commented on the failure's impact on station resupply or an upcoming launch of a Soyuz spacecraft with the next station crew, including NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, planned Sept. 21.

Mike Suffredini, NASA's International Space Station program manager, will hold a news conference to discuss the situation at noon Eastern time.

The launch was the first to the station since last month's final shuttle mission. That mission delivered more than 9,000 pounds of food and equipment.

IMAGE: Above, on April 29 this year, an unpiloted ISS Progress resupply vehicle approached the International Space Station carrying equipment and resupply items for the Expedition 27/28 crew. Progress 42 docked to the station's Pirs docking compartment at 10:28 a.m. EDT. Credit: NASA. Below, a NASA TV screen grab of this morning's Progress launch.


Mark Lopa said...

The Russians never wanted to give up the Mir Space Station, but were pressured to do so by the United States to force them to use all their resources for the ISS. They're still angry about that. A couple weeks after the last shuttle mission, they announce manned space flight is no longer a priority of their space program. Now this happens. Soon you will see them double the price of a seat for foreign astronauts on the Soyuz. They want out of the ISS, and they have everyone by the jewels since the shuttle has been terminated. None of this is a surprise to me. When did we ever think the Russians could be trusted?

bo_loo said...

"Soon you will see them double the price of a seat for foreign astronauts".

They've already announced that.

Their reply to why was basically "because we can".

Mark Lopa said...

Exactly! Because they can! Nobody in Washington or at NASA saw all this coming?

Gaetano Marano said...

after the Shuttle retirement, there's a big risk that, the $200 billion ISS, could DIE soon
and the toy-makers, can't yet help NASA, since they still play only with test, mockups, YouTube animations and Photoshop images of their "spacecrafts"
it was a very bad idea to retire so soon the Shuttle, 5+ years before have a, true, working, safe and reliable, replacement
also, if the (1800+ launches) very reliable Soyuz rocket has had a failure, what will be the (real) reliability (and successful launch record) of rockets like the Falcon-9 and the Taurus II on which NASA will rely from 2014 to resupply the ISS astronauts?

Stephen C. Smith said...

Thank God the Obama administration has prioritized commercial cargo so we won't have to rely on Progress much longer. The first SpaceX cargo delivery is scheduled for February 2012, and Orbital Sciences is a few months behind them. Good job, President Obama.