NASA said that astronauts may need to abandon the International Space Station in the fall. The announcement was prompted by Russian Soyuz rockets, which will be grounded until well into November. NASA said that it will be impossible to send new crews into space after current crews leave.
Russia launched a defective supply ship, which did not reach orbit, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. According to Interfax news, the spacecraft ignited in the atmosphere, dropping its debris in Siberia. The spacecraft was unmanned.
The cargo spacecraft Progress, which did not reach orbit, crashed on the territory of (Russia's) Altai republic, a local law enforcement source said, Interfax reported.
The third stage of the rocket failed a mere 325 seconds into the launch, Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement. Roscosmos added that the ship was not placed in the correct orbit.
2.9 tons of supplies, including oxygen, food, and fuel intended for the International Space Agency were lost in the incident, BBC News reported.
Three of the six astronauts at the station will remain there for at least one extra week.
According to NASA space station program manager Mike Suffredini, flight controllers will be able to operate the unmanned station indefinitely from Earth.