A Russian cargo spacecraft carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) is apparently out of control and is plunging back to Earth, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Wednesday, citing an official.
The unmanned ISS Progress 59 cargo spacecraft, which launched at 3:09 a.m. EST Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was carrying more than 6,000 pounds of food, fuel and supplies for the ISS crew. Some time after launch, the Russian flight control team issued commands to receive confirmation about the deployment of navigation and rendezvous systems. But due to some technical difficulty in uplinking commands to the spacecraft, controllers were unable to confirm the status of the systems, NASA said in a statement.
“It has started descending. It has nowhere else to go,” AFP quoted the official as saying. “It is clear that absolutely uncontrollable reactions have begun.”
The controllers had tried to change the flight plan and extend the spacecraft’s journey to the space station to two days, instead of six hours, to fix the problem, AFP reported, adding that the cargo ship was scheduled to dock with the ISS on Thursday.
NASA had said late Tuesday that the Russian flight control team attempted to command the spacecraft over four orbits while it was flying over Russian ground sites with no success.