An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft is likely falling to Earth from space, and will burn up as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere, a NASA astronaut said today.
Progress 59 suffered a serious malfunction on Tuesday, April 28. It was on a mission to deliver over 3 tons of supplies to the International Space Station. Video captured by the Progress 59 craft shows that it has been tumbling around in an out-of-control spin.
"We were both told recently by both the U.S. and Russian flight control centers that Roscosmos [Russia's space agency] announced that the Progress will not be docking and will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere here some days in the future to be determined," NASA astronaut Scott Kelly told reporters in a series of televised interviews.
From Space.com's coverage:
Repeated attempts to regain control of the automated spacecraft have been unsuccessful.
Today, the U.S. Air Force Space Command reported that its space junk tracking center has spotted 44 piece of debris near the Progress 59 spacecraft. However, officials with the Air Force's Joint Functional Component Command (JFCC) at the Joint Space Operations Center, which is monitoring the spacecraft, were unsure if the debris was from Progress 59 itself or the craft's upper-stage rocket body. Air Force officials said they will continue to track the spacecraft.
"Human spaceflight safety is our chief concern," Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, JFCC Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) Commander, said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation and work with our government, international and industry partners to ensure the safety of the astronauts onboard the ISS and provide for the long-term safety, sustainability, security and stability of the space domain."
Previously on Boing Boing: Russian spaceship is spinning out of control in orbit, with all contact cut off