Space Station-bound Cargo Vessel Crashes Minutes After Launch
Russian ship carried food and supplies for ISS crew
December 12, 2016
Just minutes after blast-off, the unmanned Progress 65 cargo ship crashed on December 1, along with the 700 pounds of supplies it carried.
The communication was lost only 383 seconds after it had left Baikonur, confirmed the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos).
This should have been a routine operation, as Russia sends 3-4 of these cargo ships to the International Space Station every year. The ship was carrying more than 2.6 metric tons of cargo, which included food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 50 crew currently aboard the ISS. The cargo ship and a Soyuz carrier rocket accompanying it were both burned up in the atmosphere. The remains have fallen back to Earth somewhere in the Tuva region of Siberia.
While the cause of the incident is unknown, it appears to be similar to a 2011 incident when a third-stage engine failure occurred due to a clogged fuel line. The Progress M-12 freighter in 2011 failed to reach the designated orbit and disintegrated in the Earth's atmosphere during an uncontrolled fall.
Another cargo ship also failed to launch altogether in April 2015.
Romoscos has released a statement on the matter to Russian news agency RIA Novosti: "A state investigation commission has been formed and started work at Baikonur. A decision is most likely to be made to suspend the launches of Soyuz-U carrier rockets until the investigation of the incident is over"
Romoscos has emphasized that the loss of the cargo ship will not affect the normal running operations of the ISS.
NASA has also issued reassurance that consumables aboard the ISS are in good supply.
About 700 lbs (315 kg) of supplies were intending to reach the ISS, 192 lbs (87 kg) of which were for NASA astronauts.