Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Russian Wayward Progress Spacecraft to Reach Earth on May 8

Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft launch on Apr. 28, 2015. Credit: Roscosmos

Russia’s Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft will be deorbited on May 8 and part of its debris may reach the Earth, Russian space agency Roscosmos told reporters on Wednesday. "Roscosmos experts expect that the Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft will cease to exist on May 8, 2015 at around between 01:23 a.m. and 9.55 p.m. Moscow time [between 22.23 GMT on May 7 and 18.55 GMT on May 8]," the space agency said. The spacecraft will burn in the atmosphere, although some small fragments may reach the planet’s surface, Roscosmos said. The space agency said on Thursday more exact information may be unveiled on the time and possible area of the debris fall.

Hard-to-melt titanium and steel parts of Progress cargo ship may reach the Earth when the faulty unmanned freighter is dumped, a source in Russian rocket and space industry said last week.

"The only parts that can really pass through the dense layers of the atmosphere and fall to the Earth or into the ocean include spherical tanks made of thick-walled metal. Besides, they are sheltered by the spacecraft’s hull. There are more than a dozen of such spherical tanks aboard the Progress spacecraft," the source said.

The Russian Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences forecasts that the spacecraft will be deorbited on May 7-8.

The Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft was launched on April 28 from the Baikonur space center, in Kazakhstan, on a Soyuz carrier rocket. The spacecraft entered an unexpected orbit and communication with it was lost. After several unsuccessful attempts to put it under control, specialists agreed that docking it to the ISS would be impossible. Russia’s Roscosmos has decided to dump the cargo ship.

Roscosmos head Igor Komarov said a special commission had been set up to investigate the causes of the incident. The investigators are expected to report their findings before the launch of a piloted mission to the ISS on May 26.


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