spaceSpace and Physics

Russian Spaceship Hurtles Towards Earth After Losing Contact

guest author image

Caroline Reid

Guest Author

1737 Russian Spaceship Hurtles Towards Earth After Losing Contact
Docked Progress NASA ISS Progress 47 is shown docked at the International Space Station

In space, no one can hear a lost, Russian cargo ship spinning wildly out of control.  All communications towards cargo ship Progress 59 have been unanswered.

The unmanned Progress freighter blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but once it reached its preliminary orbit ground control lost contact with the ship.  The cargo ship started unexpectedly spinning; you can see the rotation from NASA TV



Video of Progress 59's unplanned spinning

The cargo ship is now orbiting the earth and slowly falling to earth. ESA director of human spaceflight and operations Thomas Reiter, and former astronaut, says "Re-entry is normally done over the south Pacific in order to avoid any debris falling on firm terrain. Not everything will burn up and if it’s an uncontrolled entry then there will be fragments that will hit the surface. If my colleagues can’t get it under control, that could be within a week, maybe one and a half weeks at most."

 Retired ISS commander, Chris Hadfield concluded that Progress will “slowly fall and burn up.”  You can track the trajectory of Progress 59 on satflare and N2YO


Russian Flight Controllers at Roscosmos abandoned their plans to dock the cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS) to restock supplies on Thursday 30th April.  Rob Navias, a NASA spokesman, said that the docking is "indefinitely postponed."

But breathe easy for the moment: the ISS is well stocked with water, food, oxygen and other supplies for several months to come.   The 3 tonnes (roughly 6,000 pounds) of cargo on Progress 59 does not contain anything that the ISS desperately needed.  You can see the Progress’ inventory here.






spaceSpace and Physics