Where will Progress 59 make its fiery re-entry? | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 07.05.2015
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Where will Progress 59 make its fiery re-entry?

Whatever remains of Russia's seven-ton Progress 59 spaceship after re-entering earth's atmosphere will hopefully crash in the South Pacific, east of New Zealand.

The incapacitated Russian "Progress 59" cargo ship is expected to burn up after re-entering the earth's atmosphere on Friday anywhere between 00:23 und 20:55 CET, according to experts from Russia's space agency, Roskosmos.

Roscosmos experts said that it is likely the ship will re-enter somewhere in the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Space Debris Office, however, cast some doubt on that claim on Thursday (May 7), stating on its #link:http://blogs.esa.int/rocketscience/2015/05/07/update-on-progress-m-27m-reentry/:weblog#: "any reports claiming precise re-entry times and locations at this stage are speculative."

The uncertainty has raised fears that falling parts might land in metropolitan areas.

The largest parts of the spaceship are likely to burn up during reentry. Only some components, those made of stainless steel or titanium, are likely to withstand the heat and reach the earth's surface.

Roskosmos officials, speaking to Russian news agency Interfax, would not rule out that the debris could hit in inhabited areas.

The vessel was carrying roughly 2.7 metric tons of supplies to the ISS, including food, water and equipment for scientific experiments. Due to a failure in an engine on the launch, the rocket missed its planned orbit.

Infografik Aufteilung der Raumstation ISS nach nationalen Segmenten ENG

Contributions to the ISS by different countries and agencies

First stage difficulties

The spaceship weighs seven metric tons - roughly as much as a medium size truck - and failed to reach the International Space Station (ISS) on April 28 after a rocket engine failure.

The problems began right after takeoff at the space station in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, when one stage of the rocket failed to ignite properly. Two antennae also failed to deploy correctly, making it impossible for ground control to steer the vehicle.

Since then, Progress 59 has been spinning, making it even more difficult to precisely calculate its point of re-entry.

Aboard the spaceship was a Russian package containing goods for a 70th anniversary Victory Day celebration of the allied forces against Nazi Germany. In addition food, it contained a copy of the victory flag that Red Army soldiers raised on top of Berlin's Reichstag building on May, 1945.

The loss of the spaceship does not endanger the supply chain to the ISS, which has enough materials to last for several months.

The next transport to reach the station is a "Dragon" by the U.S. space company SpaceX, scheduled to arrive on June 19.

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