MOSCOW, August 24 (Itar-Tass) —— The Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has confirmed that this year’s fourth Russian Progress transport ship that blasted off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, August 24, has failed to reach the target orbit.
“According to preliminary information, during the launch of a Soyuz-U carrier rocket with a Progress M-12M transport ship aboard on August 24, the engine malfunctioned in the third stage on the 325th second, which resulted in its emergency deactivation,” Roscosmos said.
“The transport ship Progress M-12M has not been put to the designated orbit,” it said.
Earlier a source in rocket and space industry said that “after 350 seconds of the flight a drop in pressure in the fuel tanks was registered, after which contact with the spacecraft was lost”.
The Mission Control Centre declined to comment on this information.
It said earlier that at an altitude of about 200 kilometres Progress M-12M separated from the Soyuz-U carrier rocket and flew on to the ISS along the preset trajectory with the parameters of the orbit being as follows: apogee 245 kilometres, perigee 193 kilometres, orbit inclination 51.66 degrees, orbiting period 88.59 minutes.
“The Soyuz-U carrier rocket with the Progress M-12M ship aboard was launched by Roscosmos crews at precisely the scheduled time – 17:00 Moscow time,” the Mission Control Centre told Itar-Tass.
The transport ship will deliver more than 2,6 tonnes of supplies, including food, water, fuel, equipment, and presents, to the International Space Station (ISS) in two days.
It is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 18:38 Moscow time August 26.
The Russian Space Troops are using all their ground facilities to determine the whereabouts of the “lost” Progress transport ship, Space Troops spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Vitaly Vyatkin told Itar-Tass.
He quoted Space Troops Commander Oleg Ostapenko as saying that “the abortive launch of a Soyuz-U carrier rocket with a Progress transport ship from Baikonur has not affected the preparations for the launch of a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket with a GLONASS satellite from Plesetsk scheduled for August 26.”
A source in rocket and space industry said that the ISS crew has sufficient supply of oxygen, food and other materials.
Currently, there is a crew of six working aboard the ISS: Andrei Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyayev and Sergei Volkov of Russia, Ronald Garan and Michael Fossum of the NASA, and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan.
This is the fourth transport ship launch this year. The fifth one is scheduled for autumn.
Initially it was planned that after the end of U.S. space shuttle flights, Russia would send 4 manned and 6 transport ships to the ISS annually, but rocket and space industry specialists said the sixth transport ship might be launched to the ISS early next year.
“This year Russian ships, the European ATV, the Japanese HTV and the last shuttles brought all the necessary supplies to the station and there is no need to send one more transport ship at the end of the year,” the Mission Control Centre said.
However no postponement has been officially announced so far.
This is the second abortive space launch in Russia over the past seven days. On August 18, the telecommunication satellite Express-AM-4 was lost.
On February 1, a Rokot carrier rocket launched from Plesetsk failed to put the military satellite Geo IK-2 to the designated orbit.