Hazard regime lifted at probable place of Progress fall

BARNAUL, August 26 (Itar-Tass) — The hazard zone regime has been lifted and police posts restricting the populations’ access to forests removed in the Choisky (Choya) district of the Altai Republic where debris of the Progress spacecraft supposedly fell, head of the district Alexander Borisov told Itar-Tass on Friday.

“The explosion that everybody heard the night of the abortive launch most likely occurred even not in our district. This could happen in the mountains. The sound is deceptive. We have flown over the entire district in a helicopter yesterday, but found nothing,” Borisov said.

According to him, the search operations in the Choya district on Friday are complicated by the rain and dense fog covering the environs.

Borisov also told Itar-Tass that he is sceptical about media reports that residents of the Karakoksha village of the Choya district have sought medical attention as they feel unwell. “There are certain individuals who want this way to express themselves. It should not be taken seriously. The more so that the Progress has not fallen near Karakoksha, as the search has shown,” the head of the Choya district said.

The Centre for Monitoring the impact area of fragments of carrier rockets in the Siberian region said that the basic version, which is now considered by specialists is that the Progress debris have not reached the ground, exploding in the air.

“Everything has burnt, including the propellant, before reaching the ground. The spaceship was falling from a height of 150 kilometres – so nothing should remain. To all appearances, no damage has been done to the natural environment,” head of the centre established by the Roskosmos Federal Space Agency, Professor Alexander Puzanov told Itar-Tass.

The cargo spacecraft crashed on August 24 at 20:55, local time, presumably in the Chebolak area of the Choya district of the Altai Republic. The spacecraft launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome was to deliver more than 2.6 tonnes of cargoes to the International Space Station (ISS).

The highly toxic rocket fuel heptyl can pose potential danger to people staying in the space debris fall zone. The rocket-space industry sources told Itar-Tass that the Progress spacecraft carried about 800 kilograms of heptyl intended for use on the ISS.

Puzanov earlier told Itar-Tass that in his view, fragments of the Progress ship most likely do not pose any risk to the Altai residents. At the Baikonur Cosmodrome he watched the abortive launch of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket with the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft. “The wreckage fell in the mountains. There is hardly any threat, because the propellant has burnt in the atmosphere,” Puzanov said.

The state of emergency earlier introduced in the Choya district of the Altai Republic has now been lifted. The wreckage of the Progress spacecraft has not been found in the Altai Territory. The territorial emergencies department told Itar-Tass that “there is no wreckage posing a threat to life and health of the region’s residents in our territory. The region has not got in the zone of the fall.” The department noted that despite this, the emergencies services still control the situation.

During launches from Baikonur the fall of fragments of launch vehicles is possible in the Altai Territory in the Zmeinogorsk and Tretyakovsky districts. A wider area for the “space debris” fall is in the Altai Republic. Here, the impact area covers the central parts of the Iolgo, Sumultinsky, Altyntu ridges and upper reaches of the Uimen, Pyzha, Bolshaya Sumulta and Malaya Sumulta Rivers. The zone has a form of an ellipse 70 by 40 kilometres with an area of more than 2,000 kilometres and is used since 1970.

The Republic of Altai department of the Russian Federal Consumer Rights Protection and Human Health Control Service (Rospotrebnadzor) has been examining samples of water in the Biya River for the presence of hazardous substances that could get into it because of the Progress spacecraft wreckage fall. Head of the republic’s Rospotrebnadzor department Leonid Shchuchinov said on Thursday that no toxic substances have been found in the waters of the Biya River so far.

Biya flows into the Ob River, a major source of drinking water for many cities in Siberia. Shchuchinov also noted that Rospotrebnadzor experts are ready to go to the places of the debris fall in order to take samples of soil and water, when the exact location of the spacecraft fragments is determined.

The fourth this year Russian cargo spacecraft Progress was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on August 24. The launch of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket with the Progress M-12M spacecraft was carried out by the Russian Space Agency crews exactly on schedule – at 17:00 MSK. In two days the spaceship was to deliver to the ISS more than 2.6 tonnes of cargoes, including food, water, fuel and equipment. The Progress M-12M docking to the ISS was scheduled for 18:40 MSK on August 26.

However, the ship failed to reach the desired orbit.

On Wednesday, Roskosmos said that the abortive launch of a Progress transport ship on August 24 will not affect the operation of the International Space Station and its crew. “The abortive launch of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket and the failure to put the Progress M-12M transport ship to the designated orbit will not influence support the life and work of the crews of the 28/29th expeditions to the ISS,” the agency said. “Stocks of food, water and life support systems allow the crew to operate for a long time,” it said.


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