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Search for site of Progress cargo craft collapse to resume in Altai

September 13, 2011, 1:56 UTC+3

It was suspended September 5 due to a non-flying weather

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GORNO-ALTAISK, September 13 (Itar-Tass) – Search for a possible site of collapse of the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft, which might have fallen someplace in the Altai Mountains August 24minutes after takeoff from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan, resumes in Russia’s constituent Republic of Altai later Tuesday.

It was suspended September 5 due to a non-flying weather. The postponement was prolonged, as the decision-making officials of the Russian Space Agency /Roscosmos/ were expected to decide on whether to continue the search or to call it off altogether.

A decision to resume it was taken at the end of last week, a source on the Roscosmos search group told Itar-Tass.

The efforts to identify the spot where the space vehicle collapsed will continue in the same area as previously. It embraces the Choya, Turachak, Ulagan, Chemal, and Ongudai districts.

All of the latter adjoin the zone officially allotted by the regional authorities for the coming down of burned-out stages of carrier rockets launched from Baikonur.

The helicopter-based search group spent 26 hours in the air trying to identify the fragments or traces of the cargo craft but it did not find any.

This offers a backup to an explanation suggesting that fragments of the Progress did not reach the ground, as they had fully burned in the upper layers of the atmosphere.

The regional branch of Russia’s consumer rights watchdog agency, Rospotrebnadzor, said Wednesday the testing of 57 samples of water and soil from the Choya district showed an absence of any traces of heptyl -- a highly toxic rocket fuel an 800-kg consignment of which the Progress was expected to deliver to the International Space Station.

It also said no one has reported to hospitals in the Choya and four neighboring districts with symptoms of acute toxic poisoning.

At the same time, 300 or so measurements of radiation background showed that the dosages of gamma radiation corresponded to the natural background parameters.

No manmade radio nuclides have been found in the 25 samples of vegetation from forests and private kitchen gardens.

In this connection, officials have decided to wind up the laboratory testing for the presence of heptyl.

All in all, the Progress M-12M cargo craft was carrying 2.6 tons of cargoes to the ISS resident crew.


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