A Russian spacecraft carrying nearly three tons of supplies for the International Space Ship failed during a climb to orbit and slammed back down to Earth.
The spacecraft, ISS Progress 44 launched at approximately 9 a.m. EDT Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Only a mere 5 minutes, 50 seconds after its launch, communication with the Progress 44 was lost. According to reports, the spacecraft slammed down in Siberia shortly thereafter. The impact caused windows to rattle for a diameter of 90 kilometers.
No one was injured or hurt according to state news agency RIA Novosti.
At 1300 (GMT), we lifted off, following 320 seconds of flight there was a failure in the upper stage of the launch vehicle. We lost comm(unications) after a while with the launch vehicle and we did not report stage separation, said Maxim Matuchen, the head of the Russian Mission Control Center.
The loss of supplies is not devastating to the International Space Station according to the Program Manager Michael Suffredini. He said there are plenty of supplies to support the crew that is there now. The last shuttle flight stocked it with supplies.
However, a Russian commission will be formed to investigate the root cause of the vehicle loss which may affect upcoming Russian spacecraft launches. The failure of the rocket itself could bring into question the Soyuz spacecraft program. The Progress 44 is similar to those Soyuz spacecrafts that bring astronauts into space.
Russian space authorities are reviewing whether or not they will delay the upcoming Soyuz space shuttle launch on Sept. 7. The Soyuz is now the last major space agency shuttle that can transport astronauts to Earth. Until NASA creates a new system, American astronauts will rely on the Soyuz ships for space transportation.
The cosmonauts who are currently manning the International Space Station, Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan, are discussing the possibility of extending their stay on orbit to maintain six-person crew operations on the station. They are trying to consider the options for the launch of the next three crew members after them, including NASA's Dan Burbank.
The end of the space shuttle program has generated much controversy as has relying on the Russians for transportation. Presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry derided the whole decision.
Unfortunately, with the final landing of the Shuttle Atlantis and no indication of plans for future missions, this administration has set a significantly different milestone by shutting down our nation's legacy of leadership in human spaceflight and exploration, Perry said.