Russia's Rogue Spacecraft Disintegrated Safely 

By Chris Mills on at

On April 27th, a Russian resupply ship to the ISS started spinning out of control shortly after reaching space. For more than a week, Progress 59 has been hurtling around the Earth in an increasingly unstable orbit, but yesterday, it re-entered safely (and violently) over the Pacific Ocean.

Progress 59 reached orbit successfully after its launch from Kazakhstan, but mission controllers were unable to communicate with the craft. NASA video showed it spinning wildly out of control at 17,000mph, complete with its 6,000 pounds (2.7 tonnes) of cargo.

According to a statement from Roscosmos, the craft re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Forecasts predicted around 25-50 per cent (so about a tonne) of the craft would survive re-entry; presumably, that debris splashed down harmlessly in the ocean.

A Russian commission into the failure will publish its results on the 13th May. In the mean time, astronauts on the ISS will survive without the supplies the mission was supposed to bring up. Whether they’ll run out of espresso while they’re waiting for a grocery run is another matter. [Roscosmos]