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Russian Cargo Ship Bound For ISS Breaks Up Over Siberia

  • RFE/RL

A Russian Progress cargo ship in 2014

A Russian Progress cargo ship in 2014

Russia’s space agency says an unmanned cargo ship has disintegrated and burned up in the atmosphere over Siberia shortly after it blasted off with supplies for the International Space Station.

Roscosmos said on December 1 that contact with the Progress MS-04 cargo ship was lost six minutes and 23 seconds after it blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The rocket’s third-stage engines had just begun firing when contact was lost and the cargo ship failed to reach its intended orbit, the agency said.

It's the third botched launch of a Russian spacecraft in two years.

Roscosmos said the failure occured over unpopulated mountainous territory of Russia's Tuva region, and most fragments are thought to have burned up in the atmosphere.

The ship was scheduled to arrive at the orbiting station on December 3, delivering 2.4 tons of fuel, equipment, and food, as well as Christmas presents and gourmet food for a Christmas dinner,.

Russian spacecraft have served as the workhorse vehicles for getting cargo and crew to the station since the grounding of the U.S. space-shuttle fleet in 2011. Two private U.S. space companies have also started supplying the station as well.

A failed Progress launch in April 2015 forced Russia to put all space travel plans on hold for nearly three months.

That failure was blamed on a problem in a Soyuz rocket, causing the cargo ship to disintegrate as it plummeted to Earth.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, TASS, and Interfax
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