Spacecraft spins out of control after launch, expected to re-enter atmosphere

A Russian supply ship that went into an uncontrollable spin after launch has been declared a total loss, the crew of the International Space Station said.

A Russian supply ship that went into an uncontrollable spin after launch has been declared a total loss, the crew of the International Space Station said.

American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko told the Associated Press that flight controllers have given up trying to command the cargo carrier.

The unmanned vessel began tumbling shortly after its launch yesterday from Kazakhstan.

Mr Kelly said the vehicle will fall out of orbit and re-enter the atmosphere sometime soon. He was not sure exactly when.

The cargo ship contains three tons of food, water, fuel, clothes and equipment for the six station residents.

Mr Kelly said everything and everyone on board should be OK, even without this shipment. But he said it is still unfortunate.

Mr Kornienko called it “a big concern”.

The capsule is expected to burn up in the atmosphere, as is the case for all Progress carriers, once they have delivered their shipments and are filled with rubbish.

“We should be OK,” said Mr Kelly, one month into a planned one-year mission, which will be a record for Nasa. “The programme plans for these kinds of things to happen. They’re very unfortunate when they do.”

He added: “The important thing is hardware can be replaced.”

Mr Kornienko expressed “100% confidence” that operations will continue as planned until the next shipment arrives. The private SpaceX company plans to send up a load of supplies in June.

This is the second cargo ship lost in the past half year.

In October, Orbital Sciences suffered a launch explosion in Virginia that destroyed a cargo ship that had been intended for the orbiting lab.

SpaceX is currently Nasa’s sole supplier. The Japanese Space Agency also periodically sends up cargo; it is aiming for a summer shipment.

Six people are currently living on the space station: two Americans, one Italian and three Russians.

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