Update (11:00 p.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing attempts to communicate with and troubleshoot issues with the Russian Progress 59 cargo spacecraft as it makes additional passes tonight over Russian ground stations.
UPDATE (9:35 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers have continued to try and recover telemetry capability with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft this morning. The most recent ground pass started at 9:20 a.m. EDT and flight controllers reported no change in the issues with receiving telemetry data from the unmanned craft. The Russian flight control team attempted to command the vehicle over four orbits flying over Russian ground sites with no success. The next series of ground station passes is expected to resume late Tuesday evening. Teams are standing down on the Thursday docking attempt while Russian teams continue to analyze data and develop a troubleshooting plan going forward.
UPDATE (8:15 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing to troubleshoot issues with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft. The spacecraft made another pass over Russian ground stations and continued to experience telemetry problems regarding the deployment of navigational antennas and the pressurization of the manifolds in the propulsion system. Flight controllers also confirmed that the vehicle had entered into a slow spin and have issued commands to attempt to control it.
Carrying more than 6,000 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted ISS Progress 59 cargo craft launched at 3:09 a.m. EDT (1:09 p.m. local time in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
However, Russian flight controllers initially could not confirm the health of the spacecraft’s systems and deployment of Kurs rendezvous and other navigational antennas. They selected the backup rendezvous plan with a targeted arrival Thursday for the cargo ship and its supplies for the space station crew. The Progress spacecraft is in a safe preliminary orbit.
At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 257 miles over northeast Kazakhstan near the Russian border, having flown over the launch site two and a half minutes before lift off.
As Progress passed over Russian ground stations, the Russian flight control team issued commands through the telemetry system onboard the spacecraft in an attempt to receive confirmation that navigation and rendezvous systems had deployed. But, due to sporadic telemetry from Progress 59, inconclusive data, and trouble uplinking commands to the spacecraft, controllers were unable to confirm the status of the systems.
Flight controllers will continue to look at the telemetry system to determine the overall health of the spacecraft’s systems. Instead of a four-orbit, six-hour docking later this morning as originally planned, Progress now will make a two-day, 34-orbit rendezvous with the station. With the two-day rendezvous, the Russian cargo craft is scheduled to arrive at the space station at 5:03 a.m. Thursday. Russian flight controllers are continuing to work to establish a good link with the Progress as it approaches the space station.
Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and his five crew mates continue to conduct a variety of microgravity experiments on board the space station as they await the arrival of Progress 59.
Update: 16.00 MESZ
USAF Statement on Progress Anamoly
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., April 28, 2015 (JFCC PR) — Joint Functional Component Command for Space’s Joint Space Operations Center made an initial observation of an anomaly with an International Space Station Progress resupply cargo craft at 12:04 a.m. (3:04 a.m. EDT), today.
The JSpOC immediately began tracking the event and initiated the appropriate reporting procedures.
Currently, the JSpOC can confirm that the resupply vehicle is rotating at a rate of 360 degrees every five seconds.
Additionally, the JSpOC has observed 44 pieces of debris in the vicinity of the resupply vehicle and its upper stage rocket body, however, it cannot confirm at this time if the debris is from the rocket body or vehicle itself.
“Human spaceflight safety is our chief concern,” said Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, JFCC Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) Commander. “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.”
The JSpOC will continuously track the cargo craft and debris, performing conjunction analysis and warning of any potential collisions in order to ensure spaceflight safety for all.
Questions regarding the ISS should be directed to NASA and questions about the cargo craft and the ongoing attempts to command it should be directed to Russian flight controllers.
Russischer Raumtransporter stürzt unkontrolliert zur Erde
Der Raumfrachter Progress M-27M havarierte gestern auf dem Weg zur ISS und taumelt nun auf einem instabilen Orbit um die Erde.
Ein Versorgungsflug mit 2,4 Tonnen Material für die Internationalen Raumstation ist nach dem Start außer Kontrolle geraten und wird wohl in etwa einer Woche beim Eintritt in die Erdatmosphäre zerstört werden. Die Progress M-27M hatte nach dem Start in Baikonur gestern den angestrebten Orbit deutlich verfehlt und nach der Trennung von der Sojus-Trägerrakete vorübergehend den Kontakt zur Bodenstation verloren. Ein später veröffentlichtes Video zeigt, dass der Raumfrachter unkontrolliert rotiert. Laut einer Meldung der Agentur TASS sind bisherige Versuche, den Raumfrachter vom Boden aus zu kontrollieren, gescheitert. Der Orbit von Progress M-27M ist instabil, so dass der Frachter ohne Hilfe von außen zur Erde fallen wird.
Die Ursache des Unglücks ist bisher noch unklar, doch Progress wird nach Messungen der U.S.-Luftwaffe von 44 Trümmerteilen begleitet, was auf eine Explosion oder Kollision während der Trennung von Sojus hindeuten könnte. Außerdem seien nicht alle Antennen von Progress ausgefahren worden, heißt es bei Roskosmos. Für die Besatzung der Internationalen Raumstation hat der Unfall vorerst keine Folgen – die Besatzung ist noch hinreichend versorgt. Auch auf der Erde droht wohl keine Gefahr: Obwohl Progress mehr als sieben Tonnen wiegt, wird sie den Eintritt in die Atmosphäre nicht in einem Stück überstehen. Einige Trümmerteile wie Tanks und Triebwerke werden allerdings den Erdboden erreichen. Wann und wo die Fragmente zu erwarten sind, weiß man erst kurz vor dem Eintritt, der für den Zeitraum zwischen dem 7. und 11. Mai angekündigt ist.
Update: 18.30 MESZ
Unmanned Russian spacecraft plunging to Earth: official
An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft ferrying supplies to the International Space Station is plunging back to Earth and apparently out of control, an official said on Wednesday.
"It has started descending. It has nowhere else to go," an official familiar with the situation told AFP on condition of anonymity, speaking ahead of an official Russian space agency statement expected later in the day.
"It is clear that absolutely uncontrollable reactions have begun."
The official said the descent likely marked the end of the Progress spacecraft's mission although the Russian authorities will contact it again to make sure everything has been done to rescue it.
"We have scheduled two more communication sessions to soothe our conscience," said the official, adding it was hard to predict when exactly the vessel would fall back to Earth.
A Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress M-27M spacecraft with supplies for the ISS successfully launched on Tuesday but communication with the vessel was lost soon afterwards.
A spokesman for the Russian space agency, Mikhail Fadeyev, declined immediate comment.
The loss of the Progress supply ship would be the latest embarrassment for Russia's space programme that has been recently hit by a series of mishaps.
Russian officials said earlier Wednesday that attempts to contact the spacecraft had been unsuccessful, raising fears it could be lost for good.
"There have been no improvements," a mission control spokesman told AFP.
The controllers had on Tuesday opted to change the flight plan and extend the vessel's journey to two days instead of six hours in a bid to fix the glitch.
The mission control spokesman said a decision on the spacecraft's fate would likely be announced later in the day.
"It's the first time that we have such a combination of emergency situations."
'We're all worrying'
The ship had been scheduled to dock with the ISS, where the international crew of six people is awaiting the cargo, on April 30.
The Russian space programme is renowned for having sent the first man into space in 1961 and launching the first sputnik satellite four years earlier, and remains a major source of national pride.
But more recently it has endured a series of setbacks, notably losing expensive satellites and a similar Progress supply ship in 2011.
Shortly after launch, the vessel crashed into Siberia, marking one of Russia's biggest space setbacks.
Deputy prime minister in charge of the aerospace industry, Dmitry Rogozin, who is currently in China, said he was in constant touch with the space agency.
"We're all worrying about our cargo spacecraft," he said on Twitter.
NASA said none of the equipment on board was critical for the US section of the ISS, and that the astronauts have plenty of provisions, enough to last for months.
The Progress was carrying "1,940 pounds (880 kilos) of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water, and 3,128 pounds of spare parts, supplies and scientific experiment hardware," NASA said.
The next delivery to the ISS is planned by SpaceX's Dragon cargo ship on June 19.
Update: 19.20 MESZ
Next cargo spacecraft Progress may be launched ahead of time
"The next Progress may be dispatched to the ISS earlier, because the cargo the Progress M-27M was carrying apparently has been lost," the source said
Cargo spacecraft Progress M-28M, originally scheduled to be launched on August 6, may be put in orbit ahead of time due to the failed launch of its predecessor, a source at the Baikonur space site told TASS.
"The next Progress may be dispatched to the ISS earlier, because the cargo the Progress M-27M was carrying apparently has been lost. The crew has enough food and water, but in any case the reserves must be replenished," the source said. The next cargo spacecraft is already at Baikonur, but it still needs a delivery vehicle and equipment, and so on."
"Progress M-27M blasted off from Baikonur on Tuesday morning to have been propelled into an undesignated orbit. Several attempts to establish stable communication with it and put it under control have failed. A total of six attempts to contact the spacecraft will be made today. A source in the space rocket industry responsible for ballistic support for Russian spacecraft earlier told TASS Progress might leave its orbit on May 3-4, if no contact with it is established by then.
NORAD says third stage of rocket carrying cargo spacecraft burned in dense atmosphere
MOSCOW, The third stage of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket that put the Progress spacecraft into undesignated orbit has burned in dense atmosphere, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) reported Wednesday.
According to American measurements, the object having No. 40620 in the US catalogue lost orbit.
Soyuz-2.1a blasted off from the Baikonur space site on Tuesday morning. After the cargo spacecraft's separation from the rocket reports arrived that two antennae of the approach and docking system had failed to unfold. Then it turned out that the spacecraft missed the expected orbit and entered an uncontrolled spin. Repeated attempts to establish communication with the spacecraft failed.
Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov told the media on Wednesday there were no chances for docking with the ISS. The spacecraft will be deorbited on May 5-7 to burn in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Update: 16.30 MESZ
Air Force Watching Falling Russian Satellite
‘Progress’ supply craft with toxic fuel to reenter in 10 days
The Air Force is watching an out-of-control Russian satellite tumbling toward earth that could reenter the atmosphere with some 3,000 pounds of toxic fuel within two weeks.
An Air Force center in charge of monitoring space threats at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., said the unmanned Space Station resupply cargo craft known as “Progress-M 27M” was initially determined to be in trouble at 3:04 A.M. on Wednesday.
The Joint Space Operations Center is closely tracking the craft and has set up reporting procedures to alert authorities to its fate.
“Currently, the [center] can confirm that the resupply vehicle is rotating at a rate of 360 degrees every five seconds,” Air Force said in a statement.
A private space tracking website shows that Progress’ flight path regularly passes over the northern United States and Canada.
A defense official told the Washington Free Beacon that military commanders are aware of the potential threat posed by spacecraft. However, the official said so far there has been no immediate discussion of plans to shoot the craft down before it enters the atmosphere.
An Air Force Space Command spokesman said the craft is expected to reenter on May 9 at around 1:30 P.M. ET.
Another concern is that some 44 pieces of debris are also moving near the satellite and the upper stage of the rocket body that delivered the craft into orbit. The Air Force said it did not know if the debris is from the rocket body or the vehicle itself.
In Moscow, Igor Komarov director of the Russian space agency, told reporters that the Progress-M 27M spacecraft, launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, is a loss and would not dock with the Space Station. The craft malfunctioned for an unknown reason after reaching orbit, he said.
The resupply craft was carrying food and fuel for astronauts on the orbiting Space Station. Its mission cost $51 million.
Current crew members on the Space Station include Americans Terry Virts and Scott Kelly, Russians Anton Shkaplerov, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Korniyenko, and Italian Samantha Cristoforetti.
Vladimir Solovyev, flight director for the Russian section of the ISS, said the wreckage of the craft would likely burn upon reentry. The descent trajectory, “indicates that the structural elements of the ship will not reach the earth’s surface,” he said, Reuters reported.
Space analysts said the reentry of fully-fueled craft could pose a danger, if the fuel freezes. Some of the frozen fuel likely would survive the high-speed burn up of the craft as it reenters the atmosphere and potentially land on populated areas.
“So as the Russian Progress heads for an uncontrolled reentry in about ten days with most of its toxic propellant still aboard, let’s hope it comes down before the tanks freeze solid and present a USA-193-level hazard,” said James Oberg, a space affairs analyst.
Oberg said a similar threat was neutralized by the Navy’s 2008 shoot down of the USA-193, a falling National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite.
That incident posed a real danger of toxic fuel hitting populated areas, Oberg added.
“This time the [fuel] tanks are smaller, and the ‘cold soak’ period a lot shorter, so surely the hazard is a lot less,” he said.
During 2008 incident, the Pentagon modified and fired a Navy SM-3 anti-missile interceptor at the falling satellite.
The outcome was widely viewed as a demonstration of U.S. anti-satellite missile capabilities. It took place several months after China’s January 2007 test of an anti-satellite missile that destroyed a weather satellite and created some 3,000 pieces of floating debris.
“Human spaceflight safety is our chief concern,” said Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of the JFCC Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) Commander. “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.”
The Air Force said questions about the cargo graph and attempts to reestablish command should be directed to Russian flight controllers.
The 2008 operation to destroy the NRO satellite used the anti-satellite missile to target the fuel tanks on the spacecraft and dissipate is load of 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel that U.S. officials said posed a danger to people on land.
The modified SM-3 missile was launched Feb. 21, 2008, from a Navy missile cruiser and hit the satellite before reentry, some 153 miles above the Pacific Ocean.
The satellite was traveling at around 17,500 miles per hour. The debris from the satellite burned up in the atmosphere.
Quelle: The Washington Free Beacon
Correction of ISS orbit in question due to loss of Russian cargo spacecraft
The previous calculations proceeded from the assumption the ISS mass would grow after Progress M-27M docking
The correction of the International Space Station’s orbit, originally scheduled for May 6, may be canceled or postponed due to the loss of the cargo spacecraft Progress M-27M, a source in the space rocket industry has told TASS.
"No decision to carry out the scheduled correction has been made yet. The previous calculations proceeded from the assumption the ISS mass would grow after Progress M-27M docking. In the current situation, after the docking failed to take place, the need for carrying out such a maneuver within days is still in the discussion and research phase," the source said.
Originally, the engines of the cargo spacecraft Progress M-27M were to be turned on May 6 to correct the ISS obit for ensuring proper conditions for the re-entry of the manned capsule Soyuz TMA-15M on May 14.
Progress M-27M was put in space from the Baikonur space site in Kazakhstan on April 28 with a Soyuz-2.1a rocket. It soon turned out that the spacecraft entered a wrong orbit and contact with it was lost. After several unsuccessful attempts to put the spacecraft under control specialists agreed its docking to the ISS was impossible.
Russia’s Progress space freighter debris may reach Earth on May 8 — Roscosmos
"Roscosmos experts expect that the Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft will cease to exist on May 8, 2015", the space agency said
Russia’s Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft will be deorbited on May 8 and part of its debris may reach the Earth, Russian space agency Roscosmos told reporters on Wednesday.
"Roscosmos experts expect that the Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft will cease to exist on May 8, 2015 at around between 01:23 a.m. and 9.55 p.m. Moscow time [between 22.23 GMT on May 7 and 18.55 GMT on May 8]," the space agency said.
The spacecraft will burn in the atmosphere, although some small fragments may reach the planet’s surface, Roscosmos said. The space agency said on Thursday more exact information may be unveiled on the time and possible area of the debris fall.
Hard-to-melt titanium and steel parts of Progress cargo ship may reach the Earth when the faulty unmanned freighter is dumped, a source in Russian rocket and space industry said last week.
"The only parts that can really pass through the dense layers of the atmosphere and fall to the Earth or into the ocean include spherical tanks made of thick-walled metal. Besides, they are sheltered by the spacecraft’s hull. There are more than a dozen of such spherical tanks aboard the Progress spacecraft," the source said.
The Russian Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences forecasts that the spacecraft will be deorbited on May 7-8.
The Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft was launched on April 28 from the Baikonur space center, in Kazakhstan, on a Soyuz carrier rocket. The spacecraft entered an unexpected orbit and communication with it was lost. After several unsuccessful attempts to put it under control, specialists agreed that docking it to the ISS would be impossible. Russia’s Roscosmos has decided to dump the cargo ship.
Progress M-27M re-enters over the Pacific as Russia evaluates scheduleThe doomed Progress M-27M resupply ship has met its fiery demise on Thursday night, following its problematic launch last week. In reaction to the loss, Russian planners are evaluating changes to the near-term schedule, including a slip of Soyuz TMA-15M landing’s to June 11-12, moving Progress M-28M’s launch up to the beginning of July, while Soyuz TMA-17M launch is likely to be delayed to the middle of July.Via what was the 150th Progress launch, a Soyuz 2-1A rocket was tasked with lofting the M-27M uphill for what was supposed to be a fast-rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS).
The final leg of the ascent to orbit, utilizing the Soyuz 2-1A third stage driven by the RD-0110 engine, appeared to proceed as advertised, with live coverage noting no issues as the Progress separated and stretched out its power-generating solar array panels.
Problems were first observed when uncertainty over the KURS system status resulted in Russian controllers opting to move from the six hour trip to the Station to the traditional two-day rendezvous.
The goal was to use the extra time to troubleshoot communication issues between controllers and the spacecraft, ahead of providing orbital parameters to allow the ship to complete its rendezvous with the orbital outpost.
However, it was soon noted that the Progress was in serious trouble, as it sent back video footage showing it was out of control and in a spin.
(Animation created by Artyom Zharov, via L2’s dump of Progress M-27M images taken from the ISS)
Although the investigation into the incident is ongoing, various reports – and the highly respected Russian space journalist Anatoly Zak – note engineers are looking at a potential issue with the third stage, that resulted in Progress becoming crippled at the time of separation.
What was certain was Progress’ fate, ending its short life via an uncontrolled destructive re-entry, with the only remaining question being when and where.
Due to the numerous parameters involved with the orbital mechanics of such an off-nominal End Of Mission (EOM) event, such an entry prediction requires a large amount of calculation, with the window of entry shortened the closer the vehicle comes to the end of its life.
“The team at ESA’s Space Debris Office are providing regular reentry estimates to ESA Member States based on analysis of radar tracking data provided by our US partners, enhanced with data from Germany’s TIRA tracking radar (operated by Fraunhofer FHR),” noted the European Space Agency, as they monitor the track of Progress M-27M.
Observations noted that Progress is experiencing a very fast rotation rate of around one revolution every 1.8 seconds.
As of Thursday morning, we are forecasting an uncontrolled reentry by Progress M-27M anytime between later in the evening today (Thursday) through to mid-day tomorrow, 8 May,” ESA added.
“The current uncertainty is due to the unpredictability of the drag forces working on the vessel and is a standard feature of such predictions. Any reports claiming precise re-entry times and locations at this stage are speculative.”
The main predictions came from the US side, with NORAD’s timeline refined throughout the final orbits, before Roscosmos “confirmed” of the destructive re-entry of the vehicle resulting in its demise at 02:04 UTC over the North Pacific Ocean.
However, there is still some uncertainty as this region is out of the reach of Russian Ground Stations, resulting in no live tracking. A defined entry time is likely to be forthcoming from NORAD during Friday.
Most of Progress will have been destroyed during entry, with any surviving parts highly unlikely to threaten people on the ground based on probability, had the entry occurred over land. However, with the ocean re-entry confirmed, Progress’ demise proved to be uneventful, contrary to some dramatic tabloid reports.
Roscosmos is understood to be deep into evaluations for the near-term schedule for their Visiting Vehicles, with changes being discussed with the International Space Station partners.
The ISS recently enjoyed a successful reboost of its orbit via the Rendezvous and Docking (R&D) thrusters on the docked Progress M-26M, in order to set up phasing requirements for Soyuz TMA-15M landing that is on the schedule for May 13. The burn duration was 12 minutes, 17 seconds with a Delta-V of 1.34 meters/second.
However, the evaluations in Russia propose delaying the departure of Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency until June 11-12 – providing them with another month on the Station.
Roscosmos are also evaluating the potential to advance the Progress M-28M launch to the beginning of July.
This launch would not be impacted by investigation results that point to an issue with Progress M-27M’s Soyuz 2-1A rocket, as the next Progress is set to ride on the Soyuz-U carrier.
Also noted in the evaluations is the potential to delay the Soyuz TMA-17M launch – lofting Oleg Kononenko of Russia, Kimiya Yui of JAXA and Kjell Lindgren of NASA – until the middle of July.
Such changes – which remain unconfirmed at this time – hold the potential to impact on the wider Visiting Vehicle and ISS schedule, impacts that will be explored in an upcoming article by ISS Editor Pete Harding, should the changes be confirmed.