Progress 59 (M-27M) Failure

While the Progress 59 (M-27M) spacecraft is still in orbit, Russian Mission Control have declared that it cannot be recovered, they have tried repeatedly to send commands to the vehicle in an attempt to control the rapid spinning but as several reports have stated they have had no luck. In addition orbital tracking shows at least 44 different objects where the Progress vehicle is supposed to be, while they don’t know exactly what these are it doesn’t bode well for the spacecraft or mission.

As we started previously there is no immediate impact to the International Space Station crew either from the vehicle or the lost cargo. However combined with the lost of Orbital’s Cygnus last year it does present challenges for the future depending on how long it takes them to determine the root cause of the failure and deal with any changes needed to address that. At present there are four vehicles available that provide Cargo to the station Russia’s Progress, Japan’s HTV, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus and SpaceX’s Dragon.  Due to the accident the next Cygnus is currently scheduled to launch in November on an Atlas V.  An investigation will now have to be performed to determine what happened with the Progress and determine what needs to be done to address that, therefore it is difficult to determine when the next flight will be.  HTV is currently scheduled to fly once a year with the next flight in August which leaves Dragon to perform the bulk of the re-supply at present.  The next flight is scheduled for June with at least two more later this year.  It seems likely that the manifests for these missions could be changed to ensure essential supply levels are maintained on the station. UPDATE – Russian Mission Control have released some initial data indicating an issue was spotted 1.5 seconds before separation from Soyuz launcher.

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