An uncrewed Russian spacecraft is falling back to Earth after its resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) failed. The Progress 59 cargo craft launched successfully on April 28th but broke into a dizzying spin shortly after reaching orbit and detaching from its booster rockets. NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said yesterday that the docking procedure between the ISS and Progress 59 had been "indefinitely postponed," but Russian officials have now confirmed that the craft is out of control.
"It has started descending. It has nowhere else to go," said an anonymous official quoted by AFP. "It is clear that absolutely uncontrollable reactions have begun."
No danger of running out of supplies
Roscosmos — Russia's space agency — is expected to give an official statement on Progress 59 later today. Although the spacecraft is carrying more than 6,000 pounds of fuel, food, medical supplies, and spare parts, NASA says there is no danger of the six-person crew aboard the ISS running out of provisions before the next resupply mission.
The Progress series of spacecraft have been used to deliver consumable goods to the ISS for decades, and after completing their mission are usually used as trashcans. The craft are filled up with rubbish from the ISS and simply jettied into space, left to burn up on re-entry to Earth's atmosphere. However, an official from Roscosmos quoted by Interfax said that debris from the craft is expected to fall to the ground sometime between the 7th and 11th of May.