Progress Appears Lost as Debris Detected

Russia’s Progress resupply ship appears to have been lost as it continues to spin out of control. Controllers have had no success in communicating with the wayward spacecraft, according to multiple media reports.

The U.S. Air Force Joint Functional Component Command for Space’s Joint Space Operations Center ( JSpOC) said it is tracking debris near the resupply ship.

“Currently, the JSpOC can confirm that the resupply vehicle is rotating at a rate of 360 degrees every five seconds,” the command said in a statement. “Additionally, the JSpOC has observed 44 pieces of debris in the vicinity of the resupply vehicle and its upper stage rocket body, however, it cannot confirm at this time if the debris is from the rocket body or vehicle itself.”

A docking with the International Space Station has been cancelled. Unless controllers can establish control over the spacecraft, the cargo ship will make an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere within days.

Russia previously lost a Progress cargo ship in August 2011 after its Soyuz booster malfunctioned, causing the spacecraft to burn up during re-entry.

The Russian space program has been plagued by a series of launch failures over the past four years.