Saturday, August 27, 2011

Progress Launch Failure

This story slipped through the cracks of most major news outlets, but it made the news section on Wikipedia and it piqued my interest. Even better than that it is pertanent to class at the moment because we are read Angle of Attack, which is about the Apollo program. This past wednesday a Russian Progress unmanned spacecraft was launched for the International Space Station. During the third stage of ascent the Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress shut down meaning the Progress didn't achieve orbit. This Progress named M-12M was carrying over 6000 pounds of food, fuel and other supplies for the ISS. The ISS crew is not in any danger at the moment because the last shuttle mission left them almost a years worth of supplies.

This failure, the first with the Progress spacecraft, should have been bigger news because of the recent retirement of the American space shuttles. Without our own spacecraft we have to rely on other countries, mainly Russia, to resupply and change crews on the ISS. In my opinion, this launch failure so close to the last shuttle flight shows that other countries aren't as capable when it comes to space travel as the United States, who had zero launch failures during the entire ISS program.

Luckily for the United States we may not have to wait long for our own spacecraft to once again rendezvous with ISS. In November private contractor Space X will launch its second Dragon cargo spacecraft, this one with a mission to dock with the ISS. While the Progress launch failure is shocking and a little worrisome for NASA the ISS will survive and continue to operate at full speed while the Russian space program corrects their flaws with the Soyuz launch system.

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