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Satnews Daily
April 29th, 2015

Russia Cancels Resupply Cargo Craft That's Out Of Control...Unable To Deliver Goods... Spins 360 Degrees Every 5 Seconds

[SatNews] Mission controllers are unable to communicate with the craft, and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that it will be able to deliver more than 6,000 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station.

An archive photo of an unpiloted ISS Progress resupply vehicle approaching the International Space Station, bringing propellant, oxygen, air, water, spare parts and supplies. Photo: NASA

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, April 28, 2015.

Progress 59 took off yesterday from a launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. But once it reached space, mission controllers were unable to confirm the health of its systems or the status of its navigational antennas. A video on NASA television showed it spinning in orbit. 

As of this morning, the spacecraft is continuing “to experience telemetry problems regarding the deployment of navigational antennas and the pressurization of the manifolds in the propulsion system.” The scheduled rendezvous with the ISS was canceled as Russian officials try to regain control of the craft. 

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. Any 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.

NASA says the six-member crew of the ISS is in no danger, and they will continue to conduct experiments in the meantime.