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MOSCOW, September 1 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian cargo spacecraft Progress used as an orbital laboratory for some days has sunk in the special area in the south of the Pacific.
The craft debris sank at about 14:22 Moscow time at a depth of 4,000 m several thousands of kilometres east of New Zealand, far from shipping routes, the Mission Control Centre’s source told Itar-Tass.
The Progress M-11M engines were started at 13:34 Moscow time on Thursday at the command of the on-board computer. The spacecraft was on an independent flight for nine days. The engines worked for braking, and the spacecraft began to descend from the orbit. The debris of the craft with waste remains sank in the Pacific at about 14:22 Moscow time, a MCC source said.
The Progress was undocked from the ISS on August 23 and was put into a lower orbit. Three sessions of a geophysical experiment Radar-Progress were conducted during the flight with the aim to study, with the use of ground observation devices, reflecting characteristics of plasma heterogeneities generated in the ionosphere when spacecraft engines worked. The experiment results were recorded with the special ground radar belonging to the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Irkutsk Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Before the undocking, Russians Andrei Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyayev and Sergei Volkov, working aboard the ISS, manually loaded more than a tonne of waste and used equipment into the Progress. The practice to remove garbage with the use of cargo craft is not harmful to the earth environment, MCC specialists assure. When entering the dense layers of the atmosphere, most of the waste loaded in a Progress burn up together with the craft. Only fragments reach the surface of the ocean.
The docking place on the Zvezda module, from where Progress M-11M moved off, will remain vacant for at least six weeks. Progress M-12M was planned to dock to the Zvezda on August 26, but the space vehicle was lost after the unsuccessful launch on August 24. The next cargo craft Progress M-13M may be launched no earlier than in mid-October.