Cause of Progress failure unlikely to be found

My annual birthday-month fund-raising drive for Behind the Black is now on-going. Not only do your donations help pay my bills, they give me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Not good: Sources in the Russian press say that it will likely be impossible to pinpoint precisely the cause of the Progress failure this week because of a lack of telemetry or data.

The causes of Thursday’s loss of the Progress cargo spacecraft are unlikely to be established, because neither telemetry data nor debris of the Soyuz-U rocket that was taking the cargo vehicle in orbit are available. “Telemetry transmission from the rocket was disrupted instantly, so it is practically impossible to establish the sequence of events to identify the causes of the emergency. As for material evidence, such as debris of the rocket’s third stage that might provide some clues, it is not available, either,” the source said.

They are still searching for debris but have so far come up empty.

Lacking data, they are now beginning to use computer modeling to try to figure out what happened. The prime suspect is the third stage engine.


One comment

  • Stevem

    As I understand it, this is the same launch vehicle as used for manned Soyuz launches. This is not very good situation to be in for manned access to the ISS. Maybe NASA ought to be looking at ways of speeding up, if possible, development of Boeing and Spacex capsules. With what appear to be quality control issues with Russian launchers can we trust their reliability for manned launches? If they can’t explain with some certainty what happened with the third stage can we trust putting our astronauts on it?

    Hindsight is 20-20 but wonder why more importance wasn’t given to having two manned launch alternatives before retiring the space shuttle. It only seems prudent to have a backup in case the something goes wrong with Soyuz. Maybe the high reliability of Soyuz reduced apparent need for a backup. Most arguments for alternatives center around having Americans riding an American rocket and eliminating the gouging fees the Russians are charging for a ride.

    I’m thinking that we ought to get Spacex and Boeing delivery speeded up as much as practical.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *