Update on Progress/Soyuz launch failure

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Link here It appears that the spacecraft separated from the upper stage while it was still firing, causing that stage to next collide with the spacecraft.

What is certain is that computers on Progress MS-04 interpreted the separation as nominal and initiated a sequence, which would be normally performed upon reaching orbit, including the deployment of the ship’s antennas and the preparation of the attitude control thrusters, DPO, for action. However, moments after the separation, the spacecraft appeared to be struck twice by the rocket stage, which clearly continued its powered flight. The first impact came nearly straight into the aft bulkhead of the ship, then the second hit landed moments later into the side of the vehicle.

The collision apparently caused the spacecraft’s propulsion system, SKD, to shift to the side from its normal position, the temperature inside its enclosure to plummet and the whole vehicle to tumble. The telemetry from the Progress also indicated the activation of its thermal control system, probably in response to a breach in the ship’s transfer compartment.

Why separation occurred prematurely, while the engines were firing, still remains a mystery.



  • C Cecil

    Is the progress ship the only craft capable of providing the fuel for the booster engines?

  • LocalFluff

    @C Cecil
    As far as I understand, Progress is indeed the only spacecraft capable of transferring fuel to the rockets integrated on the ISS. Maybe the now canceled European ATV did it as well. The ISS can be boosted to higher orbit, or past some space debris, by a docked spacecrafts’ engines, but I suspect that Progress again is the only one today operational which has done that. Within a couple of years or so, spacecrafts under development should have the ability to boost the ISS. I don’t know if that would take too long if no more Progress is successfully launched and docked.

    It would be a tragedy and a severe failure if with 4 uncrewed spacecrafts on 5 different launchers in 3 countries, the ISS could still not be kept alive.

  • Gealon

    Don’t worry Cecil, the Zaria and Zvesda modules have a good supply of fuel on board and if supply becomes an issue while waiting for Progress to fly again, they can always use that fuel to boost the station into a higher, lower drag orbit.

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