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July 2, 2010 10:40 AM   Subscribe

The ISS Progress 38 cargo carrier was launched to bring supplies to the International Space Station. The unmanned Russian vessel has experienced problems attempting to dock with the station and has now disappeared from view, spinning uncontrollably.
posted by furiousxgeorge (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hate it when that happens.
posted by philip-random at 10:42 AM on July 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Nothing yet on what kind of supplies this vehicle was carrying? Needed oxygen and food? How quickly can they send up another supply vehicle?
posted by thecjm at 10:46 AM on July 2, 2010


In Soviet Russia, station docks you.
posted by yoyoceramic at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2010


Wow.

The utterly critical questions now: What orbit is it in, and do they have any control over it? The latter is unlikely, since it's spinning out of control, but they'll need to get the orbital parameters fast, because it's going to be in a similar orbit, and it might just come back to them -- uncontrollably.

Question #2 is supply levels. I'm presuming that they're not in drastic need, but if this supply craft is lost, they're going to need to get the next one on orbit reasonably quickly, or they'll have to decrew the ISS.
posted by eriko at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2010


am I right in construing this as very bad news indeed for the crew left still aboard the space station? among other supplies, the cargo carrier was bringing oxygen, food and water.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:49 AM on July 2, 2010


the unmanned Progress spaceship is loaded with 1,918 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 220 pounds of water and 2,667 pounds of equipment, spare parts and experiment hardware.

No idea how drastic the need for this stuff is, but I assume they plan for this contingency.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:49 AM on July 2, 2010


The utterly critical questions now: What orbit is it in, and do they have any control over it?

Those were my first thoughts. Whoo-boy, I hope it poses no physical danger to the ISS and cosmonauts/astronauts.
posted by ericb at 10:49 AM on July 2, 2010


Any word on where it may land?
posted by Debaser626 at 10:50 AM on July 2, 2010


@NASA, on twitter, is reporting: "The ISS crew is going about its usual activities now, and both the station and the Progress spacecraft and space station are safe."
posted by eriko at 10:50 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]



Any word on where it may land?


I'm gonna guess it will orbit a couple times, pick up some deadly space radiation or disease, and plummet into the Gulf of Mexico.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:52 AM on July 2, 2010 [24 favorites]


It appears that the Progress Spacecraft's automatic docking system lost the link to the Zvezsda module, aborting the landing. The Progress wasn't actually in the exact same orbit, so when the link dropped, the Progress flew by safely, and is now ahead of the ISS and opening the range.

ETA to the next attempt, if it's safe, is about 48 hours.

Unknown: Why the link was lost, and if it'll be safe to retry the docking. The Russian controller are working that problem now.
posted by eriko at 10:58 AM on July 2, 2010


Video of the incident.
posted by GuyZero at 10:59 AM on July 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Thinking about how irksome it is when the grocery store's been out of one of my items for a number of weeks.

These guys must be pissed.
posted by Eideteker at 10:59 AM on July 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ayup. Retribution for uncovering that red hot spy.
posted by monospace at 11:07 AM on July 2, 2010


I assume that once the cargo carrier settles into an orbit that we could send up a Space Shuutle, tether it (using the 'Canada' extendible arm and/or with space walks) and place it in the cargo bay (if the payload can fit (18 by 4.6 m, or 60 by 15 ft). Is this possible? Feasible?
posted by ericb at 11:09 AM on July 2, 2010


*Shuttle*
posted by ericb at 11:10 AM on July 2, 2010


Hmmm:
"If the Russians can't regain control of the supply ship, it will eventually burn up in the Earth's atmosphere."
posted by ericb at 11:13 AM on July 2, 2010


Hey, GuyZero, unless the Gregorians were lying to us about the reform, that footage is hopelessly backdated. The hairstyles alone show it to be a dramatic re-creation.

If they only let me bring 100ml shampoo bottles on an aircraft, ain't no way they gonna get that 'helmet hair' effect without at least a gallon of brill creme and a couple aerosols of perma-crete hair fixer. I can just see the space marshall, shaking his head sadly, as he disposes of 50$ in hair product. And then Martin Landau cries a single manly tear, before bravely boarding the space vessel, sans cranial protection.
posted by LD Feral at 11:15 AM on July 2, 2010


"Russian flight controllers are troubleshooting the loss of telemetry 25 minutes prior to docking. It is not yet clear when - or if - another docking attempt can be made." *
posted by ericb at 11:19 AM on July 2, 2010


US citizens at the mercy of Russian technology? Perhaps the shuttle program should be replaced instead of canceled.
posted by Cranberry at 11:23 AM on July 2, 2010


Skynet is testing us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:27 AM on July 2, 2010


oh man my fingers are totally crossed so hard right now, in approved cosmic socialist fashion
posted by jtron at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2010


This isn't the first trouble with docking a Progress supply ship to a space station. In 1997, Progress 234 actually collided with Russia's space station Mir.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 12:18 PM on July 2, 2010


All will be fine. The Russians systems are at least mature technology...
posted by A189Nut at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2010


I'm sure that Major Tom will guide his craft to a successful docking. I think his spaceship knows which way to go.
posted by markkraft at 12:37 PM on July 2, 2010


Makes you wonder how many space-fairing vehicles have gone hurtling out into the void (rather than blowing or burning up) over the years we've been out in space, doesn't it?

I like the idea that, in the 50s, someone sent a rocket up that completely missed its marks, and went hurtling out into such a large orbit that we can't find it -- and about one hundred and fifty years from now, it'll come back around, and initially be mistaken for an alien craft until people figure out WTF.
posted by davejay at 12:59 PM on July 2, 2010


No idea how drastic the need for this stuff is, but I assume they plan for this contingency.

Yeah, you would have thought that about deepwater oil drilling too.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:14 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's just hope the powers that be did plan adequately for this contingency, and this isn't going to end up turning into some earth-orbital horror-show redux of the Donner party.

(Although that might make for a really cool film project.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:18 PM on July 2, 2010


why does this feel like the first reel of SPACE CANNIBALS?
posted by The Whelk at 1:32 PM on July 2, 2010


"HAVE YOU SEEN MY SPACESHIP?

ANSWERS TO THE NAME OF 'MR MITTENS'. FRIENDLY AND APPROACHABLE. LIKES BALLS OF STRING AND SPINNING UNCONTROLLABLY.

REWARD IF FOUND. CALL NUMBER BELOW....."
posted by panboi at 1:57 PM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've done everything as you say
I've followed your rules without question
I thought it would help me see things clearly
But instead of helping me to see
I look around and it's like I'm blinded

I'm spinning out of control
Out of control
I'm spinning out of control
Out of control
posted by Twang at 2:21 PM on July 2, 2010


saulgoodman, et al: they keep a Soyuz module at the ISS at all times so the crew can leave if something does go wrong.
posted by hattifattener at 2:28 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


@davejay I like the idea that, in the 50s, someone sent a rocket up that completely missed its marks, and went hurtling out into such a large orbit that we can't find it

The earliest one's I found are Luna 1 (1959), Pioneer 4 (1959) and 1962's Ranger 3 ... it missed the Moon by 22,000 miles ... which always reminds me of the line "can't hit the broad side of a barn!" Anyway, they're ... out there ... thataway.
posted by Twang at 2:38 PM on July 2, 2010


What orbit is it in, and do they have any control over it?

Depends on its acceleration. I don't think anyone's released how fast it went by the ISS. As to whether or not they have control over it, from link:
But Russian space agency deputy head Vitaly Davydov later said the ship was not out of control.

"The Progress ship and the international space station are in working order and reliable communication with them is being maintained," Davydov said on state-run Rossiya-24 television.
So, uh, make of that what you will.

I hope it poses no physical danger to the ISS and cosmonauts/astronauts.

Apparently it sailed by with a couple of miles buffer.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:17 PM on July 2, 2010


Also, not really related, but Cosmodrome is the fucking bad-ass-est word for "rocket launch area" that I think all nations and languages should adopt it.

TWO COSMONAUTS ENTER! ONE COSMONAUT LEAVE!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:21 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hiccups and issues notwithstanding, I'm a total nut for the Soviet and post-Soviet Soyuz program (which Progress is derived from). We killed our own perfectly reasonable human spaceflight program in mid-sentence, leaving the mission-ready Apollo 18 to rot on the lawns of our crappy space centers. Then, we came up with the cockamamie, and it is a truly, luxuriously cockamamie piece of overblown, uncontrollable junk, Space Shuttle, a pseudo-reusable committee-think project manipulated by the military and lowest-bidder economics into a complete and total mess.

Meanwhile, the Rooskies built the Soyuz, which is about as simple and bulletproof as a tractor, and about as nice to look at (you've got to be a fan to love the insectile charms of the thing), and has chugged along, with few incidents, for decade after decade—being improved, upgraded, and tweaked with each new generation. There's a lot of life and flexibility in those old dogs.

So I think they'll work it out. Sometimes things just don't do what they're supposed to.

You know what's nuts, though? When the Shuttle shuffles off the scene this fall, you know what country will have the largest and most active spaceport for human flight?

Kazakhstan. Seriously.

That Kazakhstan.

Ah, sweet Soyuz, my faithful friend...wait, what were we talking about, again?

P.S. If you're a space nerd or aspire to be one, the Encyclopedia Astronautica is a great big time-sucking slice of highly-detailed heaven.
posted by sonascope at 5:51 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


LD Feral, I can only assume you have never seen the documentary Barbarella. In the future big hair technology will be pervasive. We are still catching up.
posted by localroger at 5:55 PM on July 2, 2010


My head spins thinking about answering / correcting all of the above, so I'll just punt and post this:

From www.nasa.gov/station:

"Russian and US ISS program managers will meet the morning of Saturday, July 3 to assess the next docking opportunity, preliminarily identified as approximately 4:17 PM GMT on Sunday, July 4. The Progress will conduct two engine firings tonight and another tomorrow to be in position for the potential docking Sunday."
posted by intermod at 8:16 PM on July 2, 2010


Civil_Disobedient: "Also, not really related, but Cosmodrome is the fucking bad-ass-est word for "rocket launch area" that I think all nations and languages should adopt it.

TWO COSMONAUTS ENTER! ONE COSMONAUT LEAVE!
"

And then James Woods pulls a raygun out of the vagina in his chest.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:45 PM on July 2, 2010


Update:

Resupply Craft Go For Sunday Docking .

They'll try again tomorrow at 12:10pm EDT. (NASA coverage begins at 11:30am)

ad
posted by adamd1 at 12:47 PM on July 3, 2010


adamd1: "Update:

Resupply Craft Go For Sunday Docking .

They'll try again tomorrow at 12:10pm EDT. (NASA coverage begins at 11:30am)
"

Cool! Ima be watchin' that! Thanks for posting that.
posted by LoveAndBottleRockets at 8:31 PM on July 3, 2010


The Progress docked normally this afternoon.

You can watch / download the video of the docking here:

http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6072

This is the raw NASA TV coverage, about an hour in length. The commentator will give you lots* of information about what's going on. When they show the video view from the Progress spaceship, the screen with all the numbers on it, look for the lowercase "p" in the lower right quadrant of the screen. That's actually a Greek rho character, and represents distance in meters. First time they show it, it's at 7000 meters range. Below that is "rho dot", a "p" with a dot above it, that represents the rate of change of rho, or the approach rate in meters per second.

* it's Rob Navias, he looooves the sound of his voice
posted by intermod at 12:40 PM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm ecstatic that all went well with this second docking attempt. Low Earth Orbit is not a place that one wishes to experience "drama".

From my initial readings... it looks like the autonomous docking systems did the trick this time. I wonder what the post-mortem will show...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:42 AM on July 6, 2010


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