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.

  • Dennis

    The prime suspect atm I believe is an issue with the 3rd stage which would have bumped into the Progress after separation, damaging it badly enough to cause the spin and inability to recover.

  • Michael J. Listner

    Probably going to be redoing the manifest on the CRS mission in June.

  • Chief Galen Tyrol

    3rd stage? Forgive my ignorance, but I thought both Soyuz and Progress launched using the same Soyuz launch vehicle – and I didn’t think it had a 3rd stage.

  • Dennis

    It was a Soyuz2-1b, with 3rd stage 🙂

    Soyuz 2-1B is the next-generation of the Russian workhorse Soyuz Launcher. It is nearly identical to previously flown Soyuz launchers, but features an upgraded Control System switching from analog to digital control system to make the Soyuz Launcher more flexible and an upgraded third stage featuring the RD-0124 Engine.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    There may have also been an associated explosion in the Progress’s propulsion system but that isn’t confirmed as of yet. All we do know is that the spacecraft and the upper stage are both surrounded by a field of over forty bits of debris that are detectable from Earth (per USAF at Vandenberg AFB).

  • Dennis

    Off topic, I guess you are Ben the Space Brit? 😀

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    That’s right; I saw this threads whilst Googling for more updates/more recent information and I thought I’d put in a thought or two.

  • windbourne

    I wish that Russia would switch to Angara for launching progress. Offhand I suspect that QA is superior on it.

  • Chief Galen Tyrol

    Thank you for enlightening me.

  • Dennis

    Problem solved guys, we can go back to bed now… 😀

  • Larry J

    On the Soyuz booster, the four strap-ons are considered the first stage. The center core is the second stage. Stages 1 and 2 fire concurrently. The upper stage is 3rd stage.

  • Sam Moore

    The stage is a second stage is standard western terminology, but russians count boosters as an entire stage.