Wednesday, August 24, 2011
An unmanned freighter launched to the International Space Station (ISS) has been lost.
The Russian space agency said the Progress M-12M cargo ship was not placed in the correct orbit by its rocket and fell back to Earth.
The vessel was carrying three tonnes of supplies for the ISS astronauts.
With the retirement of the US space shuttle, there is now a critical reliance on robotic freighters to keep the station supplied.
But with ample stores currently onboard, the more pressing concern will be the status of the Progress freighter’s launch vehicle - the Soyuz-U.
This is very similar to the Soyuz-FG rocket that is used to lift manned capsules to the station.
Until the cause of Wednesday’s failure is firmly established, it is unlikely the next astronaut flight to the ISS, due on 22 September, will be allowed to proceed.
In that case, the crew already on the station and preparing to come home would be asked to stay up longer.
“The anomaly has only just occurred; there’s quite a bit of work to do to sort through where we’re at,” said Mike Suffredini, the US space agency’s (Nasa) ISS manager. “If things work out and it looks like the Soyuz will be able to fly then we’ll let the crew on orbit stay until we do a normal rotation.”
The Progress mission was the 44th such cargo delivery flight to the space station.
It lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 13:00 GMT (17:00 Moscow time).
It appears the Soyuz rocket’s third and final propulsion stage system shut down early. As a result, the Russian federal space agency (Roskosmos) said, the Progress vessel “was not placed in the correct orbit”.
Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk … environment-14653371
Fill out the form below to add your own comments