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No decision yet on Progress cargo ship deorbiting or docking — source

April 29, 2015, 11:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Progress M-27M freighter blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Tuesday. After its separation from the carrier rocket, Mission Control said no telemetry was available
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© EPA/NASA HANDOUT

MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. Russia has not yet made a decision on whether to deorbit an unmanned cargo ship spinning uncontrollably in an undesignated orbit or dock it with the International Space Station (ISS), a source in the rocket and space industry said on Wednesday.

The Progress M-27M freighter blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Tuesday. After its separation from the carrier rocket, Mission Control said no telemetry was available.

Two antennas of the cargo ship’s Kurs docking system were reported to have failed to unfold. Soon it turned out that the spacecraft had entered an undesignated orbit due to a mishap in one of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket’s stages and was spinning without any control.

"It is first necessary to stabilize the spacecraft and make sure that all of its units and systems operate before deorbiting it or docking it with the ISS. A decision on whether to deorbit it or to dock has not yet been made, the source said.

Three more attempts will be made soon to establish communication with the Progress spacecraft, after which there will be an interval six circuits long, the source said.

"Specialists will try to establish communication with the space ship as long as its resources last," he said.

Telemetric data from the Progress cargo ship were not yet available, he added.

Another source in the Russian space industry told TASS that "chances remain for docking in the teleoperation mode, if specialists succeed in stabilizing the space ship."

According to the source, a failure of a part of the spacecraft’s Kurs rendezvous and docking system "is not such a terrible thing."

Previous attempts to establish communication with the Progress space freighter have failed. Six attempts will be made on Wednesday.

A source in Russia’s rocket and space industry engaged in ballistics provision for Russian spacecraft told TASS the Progress cargo ship may be deorbited on May 3-4, if attempts to establish communication with it fail.

The Progress space freighter has about 2.5 tons of cargo on its board for the ISS crew and also a copy of the Banner of the Soviet Victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

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