The International Space Station (ISS) is at present the primary active habitable artificial satellite currently in orbit around our planet Earth today. Composed of individual space modules produced by various national (and international) space agencies put together, and manned by astronaut crews coming from these same, the ISS serves as a research lab specializing micro gravity and space environments, as well as observatory of both earth and space. With its initial components launched in 1998 and expected to remain in service and orbit until anywhere from 2020 to 2028, the station has logged in some impressive earth orbit mission records for astronauts, who require a regular resupply of foodstuffs, personal care items, and a wide variety of necessary equipment all launched to them by unmanned rocket. These missions are routine in procedure, although every now and then something unexpected happens.
CNN has it that an unmanned Russian rocket carrying supplies worth 2.5 tons for the current ISS crew malfunctioned shortly after it was launched from Kazakhstan this Thursday December 1, as reported by the Russian space agency Roscosmos. They revealed that a Progress MS-04 spacecraft, launched under the mission name ISS Progress 65, disappeared from their radar with all data transmissions terminated mere six minutes after a seemingly normal liftoff. A while later they began receiving social media posts telling of fireballs in the sky and sightings of possible debris in Siberia, along the projected trajectory of the unmanned supply rocket.
A later statement by Roscosmos substantiated these various reports, and hypothesizes that whatever incident that occurred which lost them the ISS Progress 65 most likely happened when the craft was at 190 kilometers altitude above Tuva, a sparsely populated internal republic of the Russian Federation located in southern Siberia. While Roscosmos is fairly certain that most of the rocket and its cargo burned up in atmospheric re-entry, they agreed that it was possible for some debris to survive and fall to Earth.
Counted in the lost supply cargo’s inventory are improved spacesuits to be tested on spacewalks, a prototype toilet for the Russian module that can recycle urine into water, and a miniature greenhouse. The “unfortunate incident” was reported by NASA to the ISS crew, who are at least confident that their remaining food supplies will carry them comfortably without rationing until the next resupply spaceflight from the Japan space agency JAXA. It is expected to launch next week on Friday December 9.
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