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Fragment of Progress cargo spacecraft found in Altai mountains

September 14, 2011, 16:54 UTC+3

The find has been reported to the chiefs of Roscosmos, the head of the space agency’s work group said

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GORNO-ALTAISK, September 14 (Itar-Tass) — A small fragment presumably of the Progress cargo spacecraft and an aluminum container the size of a human palm bearing an inscription “food ration” have been found in the republic of Altai in the course of the search for any traces of the lost spacecraft.

The find has been reported to the chiefs of Roscosmos, the head of the space agency’s work group Dmitry Gurov told Itar-Tass.

He added that now Roscosmos was studying the descriptions from the site in an attempt to see whether the found items were parts of lost Progress.

Gurov said that the search team’s helicopter had flown a total of two hours over the southern extremity of Lake Teletskoye, in the Turachak district of the Republic of Altai. The search team had to do a lot of walking, because such small fragments are impossible to detect from the air.

On Thursday, the southeastern shore of the lake will be combed.

The cargo spacecraft was lost over Altai on August 24. Progress M-12M, launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome, was to deliver more than 2.6 tonnes of cargo to the ISS, including nearly 800 kilograms of heptyl (a highly toxic rocket engine fuel).

Over the past few days following the accident over the Choi and four neighboring districts of the Republic of Altai specialists have flown a total of 26 hours in search of the wreckage of the spacecraft.

The chiefs of the republic’s consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor have said that all tests of water and soil samples made in the areas where the launch vehicle may have crashed showed no trace of heptyl. No patients have turned for treatment with signs of acute toxic poisoning to hospitals in the Choi, Turachak and three other neighboring districts of the republic. Numerous measurements of radiation levels have shown the strength of gamma radiation corresponds to the natural background values.

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