Baku, April 30, AZERTAC
A Russian cargo ship tumbled out of control shortly after launch on Tuesday, threatening more than 2722 kilograms of fuel, water, food and supplies intended for the International Space Station, NASA said.
According to Reuters, the Progress 59 freighter blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3.09am Washington time. Minutes later, the freighter reached its preliminary orbit and deployed a pair of solar panels. However, ground control teams then lost contact with the ship, unable to confirm if its communications system was working or if it was ready for a series of steering burns to reach the orbital outpost, which flies about 418 kilometers above Earth.
NASA said the Progress was spinning.
Russia will try again to contact the ship. If it cannot be maneuvered, at some point it will re-enter Earth's atmosphere and incinerate. If that happens, it would be the second station cargo ship lost in the past six months.
A US Cygnus freighter, owned and operated by Orbital ATK , was destroyed in a launch accident in October.
Progress carries 2769 kilograms of cargo, including 880 kilograms of fuel, 420 kilograms of water, 50 kilograms of oxygen and 1419 kilograms of food, clothing, spare parts, experiment hardware and other supplies.
There was nothing aboard Progress that was critical for US operations of the station, NASA said.
The item in shortest supply was food, NASA program manager Mike Suffredini wrote in an email.
The station, which is staffed by rotating crews of six astronauts and cosmonauts, had enough food for more than four months, he said, adding that several other vehicles, including a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship, another Progress capsule and a Japanese HTV freighter, were all due to launch over the next few months.
The station had enough fuel to last more than a year, Mr Suffredini said.
The station, a $US100 billion ($126 billion) project of 15 nations, is a laboratory as big as a five-bedroom house that hosts a wide array of science experiments and technology research.