Russia Abandons Supply Mission to International Space Station

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Russian flight controllers have given up attempting to salvage a Progress cargo ship loaded with 3 tons of supplies and equipment intended for the International Space Station. Astronaut Scott Kelly, on board the lab for a year-long mission, said Wednesday the Progress will not be docking and instead will plunge back into the atmosphere.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Kelly said the crew was told the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos had determined “the Progress will not be docking and will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere here some days in the future, to be determined. But this Progress is not coming to the space station.”

NASA confirmed no docking attempt would be made, adding that “Russian flight controllers are continuing to assess the vehicle and what the plan going forward will be.” One major question is whether the Russians can regain enough control to guide the spacecraft to a targeted re-entry, ensuring any surviving debris falls harmlessly at sea.

During a morning call to the station, a Russian flight director did not address re-entry, telling the crew only that no docking attempt would be made.

“All the resources have been used up,” he said, presumably referring to propellant, gas used for propulsion system pressurization, or both. “We are in the middle of the closeout operations with respect to that Progress, but there will be no Progress docking for this vehicle. That’s all I’ve got for you guys.”

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