02.12.2016
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What has «Progress» come to?

Грузовой космический корабль развалился над Тувой

Космический грузовой корабль "Прогресс". Фото: NASA
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What happened?

On the 1st of December in the evening Russian space Agency reported about the problems with Progress MC-04 cargo vessel which had been launched from Baikonur to the International space station. The space vehicle docking with the ISS was scheduled for December 3rd. It turned out that Progress had been destroyed over the Republic of Tyva. Roscosmos reports that most of the fragments had burned in the dense atmosphere. Unburned fragments had fallen near the town of Kyzyl, which is the capital of the Republic.

What was the spacecraft to deliver?

The ship was supposed to deliver to the crew about 2.5 tonnes of cargo: fuel, water, food, medical supplies and scientific equipment. On board there were 705 kg of propellant, 50 kg of oxygen, 420 kg of water and about 1,200 kg of food and other things essential for life in space. Apart from this, the vessel was carrying a new spacesuit produced in Russia, fresh fruit for the Christmas table, the system for water and urine recovery for the Russian module and also a new greenhouse for the cultivation of various crops.

Why did “Progress” crash?

As one of the versions of the falling of the Progress MC-04 space vessel can be considered negligence in the manufacture of the third stage of Soyuz-U carrier rocket , RIA Novosti reports, with a reference to a source in the space industry.

In its turn TASS with a reference to its source reports that the state Commission investigating the crash of Progress MC-04 space vessel considers the RD-0110 engine burnout of the third stage of SoyuzU carrier rocket to be the basic version of the incident . According to the source, this could be caused by foreign particles getting into the engine or poor assembly of the engine. These are versions and the true reason of the accident is unlikely to be identified due to the lack of necessary telemetry data and the wreckage of the rocket, TASS source said.

If identification of the reasons is delayed, the launch of the Russian space vessel Progress scheduled for February 2, 2017 may be postponed, reports TASS referring to an informed source. According to it, the investigation can last for several months.

Are the fallen fragments dangerous?

Evgeny Parfenov, a leading engineer of the Department of gravitational astronomy and astrometry of the Research Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics at Tomsk state University says that the falling debris do not pose a threat to the ecological status of the area, as reported TASS. . The expert pointed out that the space vessel had been lost, not the booster. It “had long been separated and was flying by itself.” So there was not a large amount of fuel in it, only the cargot. “The rest most likely won’t fall down. There is nothing toxic in it.

Also the interlocutor of RIA Novosti noted that the area of the fallen debris was sparsely populated, the area was mountain-woody; in this regard there were no complaints about the destruction or casualties. However, the Siberian regional emergency center was tasked to monitor the situation.

What will happen to the ISS?

It’s all right. Roskosmos said that the loss of the cargo ship will not affect the usual operations of the ISS and the life of members of the crew. NASA holds the same opinion. Commonly, the station crew has enough food and everything necessary to safely live for three months if the delivery fails.

“Our astronauts and the Russian astronauts are safe aboard the station. Resources aboard the station are at a sufficient level,” as says in a NASA blog. NASA also noted that the lost goods can be replaced by a Japanese cargo spacecraft HTV-6 starting to the 9th of Dec to the ISS.

Did it happen with Progress before?

The previous accident occurred during the launch of Progress on 28th of April 2015. Then the ship ceased to transmit telemetry and moved to the uncontrolled rotation. On the 8th of May uncontrollably de-orbited and burned in the dense atmosphere, fragments of the ship falling into the Pacific Ocean.

The reason for the accident was abnormal separation of the third stage of the carrier rocket and spacecraft. Defective assembly of RD-0110 was the cause of the fall of Progress M- 12M in August 2011. It was the first crash of Progress. The reason was the blockage of fuel feed line. This manufacturing defect was declared accidental.

On 25th of June 1997 while the redocking of Progress M-34 it crashed into Spektr module of Mir space station, which led to damage to the solar panels and depressurizing of the module. Progresses in various versions have been flying to the ISS since 2000, they have been launched more than 60 times.

Read more
    • Lost fourth “truck” for the ISS in two years. The astronauts run out of food? – article “Meduza”.

he returned To Russia – Who is to blame for the fall of “Progress” and why this is an indictment of the space industry – article “Lenta.ru”.

 

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