Progress space freighter destroyed in atmosphere

Large pieces of the Progress M-12M space freighter have not been discovered because the ship most likely burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere or the third stage of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket exploded, a source in the space industry said on Monday.

“Large pieces of the space freighter have not been found because they probably burned after an explosion of the third stage of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket; there had to be a lot of kerosene and liquid oxygen in the fuel tanks at the time of the emergency,” the source said.

The Progress M-12M space freighter, carrying food and other items to the International Space Station, fell in South Siberia’s Altai Republic on August 24 after failing to separate from its carrier rocket, the first loss of a Progress freighter in the history of Russia’s space industry. A rocket engine failure is believed to have caused the accident.

“On the other hand, the taiga is large and the weather is awful, after the rain it began snowing, meaning it will be extremely difficult to find even small fragments of the Progress,” the source added.

The freighter was carrying toxic heptyl fuel, although experts say it would have burned up in the atmosphere. Russian medical officials have also said no trace of the fuel has been discovered.

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