More than 2 1/2 tons of food, fuel and supplies intended for the International Space Station have been lost after an unmanned Russian spacecraft veered off course shortly after its successful launch from Kazakhstan.
Lift-off at Baikonur Cosmodrome came at 9:51 a.m. EST Dec. 1, or 8:51 p.m. local time. The Progress 65 cargo craft, launched by a Soyuz rocket, had been scheduled to dock at the ISS on Dec. 3.
However, Russian space agency Rosmcosmos said the spacecraft and its cargo were lost when an unspecified mission anomaly occurred just over six minutes post-launch. The craft missed its intended orbit, perhaps due to third-stage boosters firing too early, according to early speculation.
“After 382 seconds of flight the receiving Progress MS-04 telemetry data was stopped (and) radar stations did not detect the cargo vehicle Progress MS-04 on the calculated orbit,” the agency said. “According to preliminary information, the (anomaly) took place at an altitude of about 190 km over remote and unpopulated mountainous area of the Republic of Tyva. Most of cargo spacecraft fragments burned in the dense atmosphere.”
NASA and other ISS partners noted that the crew of the space station had plenty of supplies on hand, with Japanese space agency JAXA scheduled to launch a cargo craft to the space station on Dec. 9.
NASA contractors Orbital ATK and SpaceX also perform cargo shuttling missions to the ISS. SpaceX and Boeing also hold contracts to conduct manned astronaut shuttles, but those missions aren’t expected to start until 2018.