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Forum:Soviet - Russian Space
Topic:Progress M-12M (44P) lost during launch
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Robert Pearlman
Progress M-12M lost after launch

Mission Control Moscow reported that its communication with the Progress M-12M (44P) resupply craft was lost five minutes and 20 seconds after its launch at 8 a.m. CDT Wednesday (Aug. 23).

Preliminary data from the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos indicates there was a problem with the propulsion system, and that the vehicle did not reach its desired orbit.

Just after 10 a.m., Mission Control Moscow radioed a report to the crew on board the station:

"At 1300 (GMT), we lifted off, following 320 seconds of flight there was a failure in the upper stage of the launch vehicle. We lost comm after a while with the launch vehicle and we did not report stage separation," Maxim Matuchen, head of the Russian Mission Control Center, said.

"In the previous comm pass we attempted to contact the vehicle through every possible channel. Orbital monitoring telemetry and we have just finished our second comm pass where we invoked all of the communications facilities. We sent commands to activate the comm pass on board, unfortunately it failed."

"Understood," replied Expedition 28 commander Andrei Borisenko on board the International Space Station.

"This is it for the moment, we'll try to figure out what has happened and what the cause was. I just wanted to keep you informed," said Matuchen.

"Thank you for letting us know so quickly," Borisenko added. "Thank you from the entire crew."


Progress M-12M launches on Aug. 24, 2011. Credit: RSC Energia

Progress M-12M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome into a cloudless sky at 7 p.m. Kazakhstan time bound for the International Space Station and a docking on Friday. At the time of launch, the space station was flying 230 miles over Equatorial Guinea on the west coast of Africa. The spacecraft was carrying 2.9 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the space station.

See here for discussion of the loss of the Progress M-12M ISS resupply craft.
Robert Pearlman
Station in "good condition" despite loss of supplies

The International Space Station is in a "good position" to withstand Wednesday's loss of Russia's Progress M-02M, NASA said after a launch failure resulted in the cargo craft crashing back to Earth.

"Given the logistics situation on the ISS, particularly having flown [last month's space shuttle mission] and because we're at a higher altitude now, we are in a good position logistically to withstand this loss of supplies," Michael Suffredini, manager of the space station program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, told reporters. "In fact, I would tell you we can go several months without a resupply vehicle if that becomes necessary."

The station, said Suffredini, is in good supply to wait, if necessary, for the planned March-launch of the next supply craft, the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

Before then however, three of the station's crew members would need to return to Earth.

The next crewed Soyuz launch, Soyuz TMA-22, was scheduled for Sept. 22. If that flight needs to be delayed — the Soyuz and Progress launch vehicles share similar upper stages, which is what failed on Wednesday — then the Soyuz TMA-21 crew could remain aboard the station, but only until October.

"This particular crew, their nominal return on the eighth of September resulted in a 162-day period on orbit. We nominally plan for 180 days and in fact, we have about a 30-day contingency on that. So we have at least 40 to 50 days of contingency for the crew to stay on orbit that much longer to allow us to stay at [a six person] crew while they sort out the anomaly," Suffredini said.

"Of course, if things extend too long, which we don't have any indication today that's the case but given the anomaly we have to be prepared, there is an ability to operate station with less than six crew if that becomes necessary."

"At some point, the [Soyuz TMA-21] vehicle on orbit that has Ron [Garan] and Andrei [Borisenko] and Sasha [Samokutyayev] will time out and so we will have to bring them home. But operating at a three-crew size is something we are familiar with and able to do, although it would have implications in our ability to perform research."

See here for discussion of the loss of the Progress M-12M ISS resupply craft.
Robert Pearlman
Aerial search underway for Progress M-12M remains

Helicopters have been dispatched to Russia's Altai territory in the Siberia region to conduct an aerial search for the wreckage of the Progress M-12M unmanned cargo spacecraft that crashed back to Earth Wednesday after its launch vehicle failed to place it into orbit.


Progress M-12M as it was being prepared for launch. Credit: RSC Energia

Local authorities told the ITAR-TASS news service that the craft was believed to have fallen near the village of Bizhelbik in the southern Choisk district. Four teams of loggers could have been in the heavily-forested area when the rocket fell.

"According to preliminary reports, four teams of loggers, ten people in all, are in the crash area, as well as citizens who gather pine nuts," the Prosecutor General's Office told ITAR-TASS. "The authorities put the area on alert and banned visits to the forests. They also placed posts on the roads leading to the site of the accident."

Arrangements were also made to evacuate the loggers.

Environmental monitoring specialists are due to arrive in the area to estimate the consequences of the rocket crash.

See here for discussion of the loss of the Progress M-12M ISS resupply craft.
Robert Pearlman
Gas generator blamed for Progress loss

The Progress M-12M transport ship accident on Aug. 24 was caused by a malfunction in the gas generator in the Soyuz U rocket's third stage engine, Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

"Members of the emergency commission have determined the cause of the failure of the Soyuz carrier rocket's third stage engine. It is a malfunction in the engine's gas generator," Kuznetsov said.

Meanwhile, the search continues for debris from the Progress M-12M spacecraft, which is believed to have broken apart and fallen over the Altai territory in the Siberia region. To date, the aerial search has been limited to using one Mi-8 helicopter from the local Emergencies Ministry.

"The number of aircraft will be increased. This will allow us to enlarge the search area. We will use all aircraft available in the region," Alexander Puzanov, head of the Center for Monitoring Carrier Rocket Debris Fallout Area in Siberia, told ITAR-TASS.

The search will resume on Tuesday, Aug. 30, if the weather allows. "We could not take off today. The weather is very bad. No search has been conducted," he said.

See here for discussion of the loss of the Progress M-12M ISS resupply craft.
Robert Pearlman
"Production fault" blamed for Progress failure

The Progress M-12M resupply spacecraft failed to reach orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) because of a fuel supply problem in the third stage of its Soyuz-U booster, Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos said on Thursday (Sept. 8), quoting the results of an investigation by a government commission.

According to Roscosmos, the fuel supply tract to the gas generator of the third stage was choked up "due to a production fault," ITAR-TASS reported.

"The analysis of the operating parameters of the third stage engine and the results of telemetric information provided a conclusion about decreased fuel consumption in the gas generator because of choked supply tract," Roscosmos said. "This resulted in incorrect operating conditions and decreased parameters of the engine which was stopped by the emergency engine stop command."

"The exposed production defect was accidental," the space agency said adding that the reason may be qualified as an isolated case only after checking all available engines.

See here for discussion of the loss of the Progress M-12M ISS resupply craft.

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