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Roscosmos confirms loss of Progress spacecraft

December 01, 2016, 20:53 UTC+3

Most of Progress spaceship’s debris burnt up in the atmosphere

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© NASA

MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. The Russian Progress cargo spacecraft was lost at an altitude of 190 kilometers over the Republic of Tuva in southern Siberia, the press service of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos said on Thursday.

"According to preliminary information, the spaceship was lost as a result of a contingency situation at an altitude of 190 kilometers over hard-to-reach unpopulated mountain area in the Republic of Tuva. Most of the fragment burnt in the dense atmosphere. A state commission is analyzing the situation. The loss of the cargo spacecraft will not impact the normal functioning of the International Space Station’s systems and the crew’s routine operations," Roscosmos said.

According to Roscosmos, the flight of the carrier rocked proceeded routinely until the 383nd second after which time telemetry transmission was stopped.

"Routine control systems failed to register the spacecraft in the designated orbit," the corporation said.

A source in the space rocket industry told TASS earlier that ground-based control systems registered breakdown of the spacecraft before it stopped transmitting telemetry data. The source did not rule out it might have been caused by an explosion.

A space industry source told TASS that an express check revealed no reasons for the accident. 

"An express test showed the loss of telemetry data from the third stage of the rocket. Before the telemetry was lost, no problems emerged," he said. "Engines of the first and second stages of the carrier rocket worked normally. The separation of the first and second stages of the rocket and the PLF jettison were carried out in time."

He said the rocket was 181 kilometers above ground when the telemetry data was lost.

Fragments of the spacecraft might have fallen down some 60-80 kilometers west of the city of Kyzyl, the capital of the Republic of Tuva in southern Siberia, in a sparsely populated area, the source said.

"It is supposed that fragments of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket and the Progress MS-04 spacecraft might have fallen down some 60-80 kilometers west of Kyzyl, in case the engines switched off between the 382nd and 384th seconds of the flight. This is a mountainous forest-covered area and it is sparsely populated," the source said.

Apart from that, the source said no damages or casualties have been reported. "Eyewitnesses only say they saw a meteor shower," the source said.

The Russian emergencies ministry’s Siberian regional center is monitoring the situation.

Future Soyuz-U launches 

Thursday’s accident with the Russian Soyuz-U carrier rocket and the Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft might impact launches from the Plesetsk and Kourou space centers as carrier rockets used there are equipped with a similar engine, a source in the Russian space rocket industry told TASS.

"It is known that telemetry from the Progress cargo spaceship was lost when the third-stage engine RD-0110 manufactured by a design bureau in Voronezh was on. The same engines are used in the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rockets that are launched from Baikonur and Plestesk, and in the Soyuz-ST carrier vehicles launched from the Kourou spaceport. So, today’s situation might tell negatively on further launches until specialists establish the cause," the source said.

The Soyuz-U rocket carrying the Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft loaded with 2.5 tonnes of cargoes for the ISS crew, was launched from the Baikonur space site in Kazakhstan at 17:52 Moscow time on Thursday. The spaceship separated from the carrier rocket nine minutes after the launch. It is planned to launch another Progress MS spaceship to the ISS on February 2.

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