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Progess M-27M burns up in Earth's atmosphere

Some small fragments are expected to make it down to Earth's surface, but hit ocean water

CNN —  

A crewless Russian cargo space ship that had gone astray has “ceased to exist,” Russia’s space agency said Friday. The bulk of it burned up after re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

A few small fragments of Progress M-27M are expected to make it down to Earth. They shouldn’t crash, but instead will splash down.

“Entry into the atmosphere occurred over the central Pacific Ocean,” Roscosmos said in a statement. The time of re-entry was 5:04 a.m. Moscow time (10:04 p.m. Eastern).

Gone awry

Progress M-27M, also known as Progress 59, was supposed to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, but overshot its mark.

Russian ground controllers lost contact with the spacecraft soon after it launched on April 28.

Though Roscosmos is still investigating the cause of the failed mission, preliminary evidence points to an accident in the third stage of the space craft’s carrier rocket, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Though the craft was not going to transport people, the failure will delay the return to Earth of some ISS crew members. They were scheduled to leave on May 14, but will have to sit tight until June.

Roscosmos wants time to fully investigate the accident and carry out quality inspections on carrier rockets that have already been built and are waiting for launch.

Food, fuel, oxygen

The cargo ship was carrying more than three tons of food, fuel, oxygen, spare parts and scientific experiment hardware for the space station, according to NASA, but none of it is critical to ISS’ operation.

Even if Russia hadn’t lost contact with the craft, the original plan was for Progress to burn up re-entering Earth’s atmosphere – albeit laden with garbage rather than a full load of equipment for the space station.

The next planned resupply flight, which will be the seventh SpaceX commercial resupply services mission to the space station, is not scheduled to take off before June 19, NASA said.

Roscosmos plans to launch a resupply mission in late June or early July, TASS reported.

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CNN’s Brian Walker contributed to this report.