In what can be termed as the third botched Progress cargo craft in two years, an unmanned Russian cargo ship on a scheduled mission to the ISS malfunctions and explodes over a remote area in Siberia. The Russian space agency was quoted as saying that the craft malfunctioned and disintegrated over Siberia.
According to Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency stated that the MS-04 cargo ship disintegrated at an altitude of 190 km over the Russian Tuva region near the Mongolian border. Most of the crafts burnt out in the atmosphere but some pieces did fall over an isolated area. It added that the spacecraft was operating normally. However, it stopped sending data a few minutes after launch. Locals in the area reported seeing a bright flash of light and a loud bang west of Kyzyl located some 3600 km east of Moscow. This was stated by the local Tuva government.
After the end of the Shuttle program, it is now up to the Progress craft and Soyuz to ferry supplies and astronauts to the ISS. Supplies are also being transported by private agencies rockets such as Falcon and SpaceX. The Progress ship had lifted from the Space Launch Facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The craft was carrying 2.5 metric tons of fuel, water, food and other supplies. The spacecraft was scheduled to dock with the ISS on Saturday. However, the latest mishap has once again put a big question mark on future supplies to the ISS.
However, the space agency said that the normal activities of the crew would not be disrupted. The subsistence of the crew will also not be affected. NASA has also clarified that the supplies on the ISS are comfortable.
Roscosmos has not described the malfunction, saying its experts were looking into it. However, it has not clarified that if the accident will affect future launches. It must be remembered that the same Progress craft is also used to ferry astronauts to the ISS and therefore a thorough investigation will be required before the rocket is ready for its next launch.