Out-of-control Russian spacecraft declared a total loss
Mission Control gives up trying to reach unresponsive, spinning Progress space cargo ship
A Russian supply capsule that went into an uncontrollable spin after launch is expected to fall and burn up in the atmosphere after being declared a total loss Wednesday.
The space station's one-year crew members, American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko, told The Associated Press during an interview that flight controllers have given up trying to command the cargo carrier.
The unmanned Progress vessel, loaded with nearly three tonnes of goods, began tumbling shortly after its launch Tuesday from Kazakhstan.
Kelly said the craft will fall out of orbit and re-enter the atmosphere sometime soon. He's not sure exactly when.
The capsule is expected to burn up in the atmosphere, as is the case for all Progress carriers, once they have delivered their shipments and are filled with trash.
Agence France-Presse reported earlier today that the unmanned Progress M-27M spacecraft has begun falling through the atmosphere.
The news agency quoted an official familiar with the situation who requested anonymity: "It [the spacecraft] has started descending. It has nowhere else to go... It is clear that absolutely uncontrollable reactions have begun."
The spacecraft was launched Tuesday and was scheduled to dock at the International Space Station six hours later to deliver 2.8 tonnes of supplies, including food and fuel.
Flight controllers were unable to receive data from the spacecraft, which had entered the wrong orbit and appeared to be spinning "at a rather significant rate," NASA's Mission Control reported.
ISS astronauts 'should be OK'
On Wednesday, Kelly said the astronauts on the space station will be able to do without the supplies aboard the cargo ship.
"We should be OK. The program plans for these kinds of things to happen. They're very unfortunate when they do."
He added: "The important thing is hardware can be replaced."
Kornienko called it "a big concern." But he expressed "100 per cent confidence" that operations will continue as planned until the next shipment arrives. The private SpaceX company plans to send up a load of supplies in June.
This is the second cargo ship lost in the past half year.
A U.S. Cygnus freighter, owned and operated by Orbital ATK , was destroyed in a launch accident in October.
With files from Reuters, AFP