NEWS

Progress spacecraft plummets to Earth this evening

05/07/2015 10:19 EDT | Updated 05/07/2016 05:59 EDT
An out-of-control, unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft that malfunctioned on its way to the International Space Station last week will fall to Earth this evening.

As of Thursday mid-morning, the Progress 59 M-27M spacecraft was expected to fall between 6:13 p.m. ET and 9:51 p.m. ET Thursday, the Russian space agency Roscosmos reported. 

The ship is expected to burn up nearly completely in the Earth's atmosphere, and only a few small pieces will reach the planet's surface, Roscosmos said.

They should be similar in size and nature to those that fall to Earth when a Progress spacecraft normally burns up in the atmosphere after making a successful delivery to the International Space Station, Roscosmos added.

Spinning once every 1.8 seconds

According to the European Space Agency Space Debris team, the likelihood of the Progress spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere over North America or Europe has dropped significantly.

ESA reports that the Progress spacecraft was spinning very quickly, about once every 1.8 seconds.

The satellite tracking site Satview.org predicts the spacecraft will re-enter the atmosphere over western China around 8 p.m. ET today.

Progress 59 M-27M was launched on April 28 with 2.8 tonnes of supplies for the International Space Station, including food and fuel.

However, after launch, flight controllers lost control of the ship, which had entered the wrong orbit, wasn't transmitting data, and was spinning "at a rather significant rate."

The following day, Roscosmos declared the spacecraft a loss and gave up trying to control it.

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