Something went very wrong after an unmanned Russian spacecraft lifted off with supplies for the International Space Station on Tuesday, as it is now plunging toward Earth today. Russia’s space agency did everything possible to try and regain control of the malfunctioning spacecraft, but it was to no avail, according to the Christian Science Monitor on April 29.
The Russian robotic Progress 59 cargo spaceship blasted off yesterday and experienced a serious malfunction shortly after it was launched into orbit. The ship started in an uncontrollable spin, seen through the cameras on board which showed the earth and the sun rapidly coming in and out of the camera frame.
Former Canadian astronaut Chis Hadfield is charting the spacecraft on his Twitter page. He is charting the location of the craft as it orbits the Earth while dropping down towards Earth’s atmosphere. The Russian out-of-control spacecraft is due to hit Earth’s atmosphere somewhere between May 7 and 11. It is too soon to tell the location where the unmanned spacecraft will fall to Earth.
USA Today reports that when the spacecraft was launched on Tuesday it “entered the wrong orbit” and almost immediately developed stabilization problems. You can see the dizzy out of control spin of the ship from the camera shots that were sent back to Earth.
The effort to gain control of the ship is not abandoned and the Russians will continue to try and communicate with this ship each time it passes over one of the Russian ground stations. When the ship enters the Earth’s atmosphere some of it is expected to burn up, but just what debris will make it to the Earth’s surface is unknown today.
Plans to dock the ship to the International Space Station were scrapped today, according to Rob Navias from NASA in a NASA TV update. The ship was due to dock to the space station this morning, then it was pushed to Thursday as attempts were made to regain control of the ship. They have now been “indefinitely postponed,” reports Navias.
Navias said that the problem started almost immediately after “spacecraft separation” he reported from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Russians have not received confirmation that the navigational antenna deployed, which is needed to take control of the computers so the ship can be navigated from back on Earth.
In the four orbits that the unmanned spacecraft made around Earth, the Russians tried to gain control of the computerized navigation system on board the spacecraft each time it passed over one of the Russian ground stations, again to no avail.
The spacecraft was carrying fuel and supplies to the space station, but it will not cause a hardship for the folks aboard the space station because they have plenty of supplies.