CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A Russian supply capsule that went into an uncontrollable spin after launch was declared a total loss Wednesday, but the astronauts at the International Space Station said they will get by without the delivery of fresh food, water, clothes and equipment.
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 3 tons 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.
“We should be OK,” said Kelly, one month into a planned one-year mission, which will be a record for NASA. “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 percent 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.
In October, Orbital Sciences Corp. suffered a launch explosion in Virginia that destroyed a cargo ship that had been intended for the orbiting lab.
SpaceX is currently NASA’s sole supplier. The Japanese Space Agency also periodically sends up cargo; it is aiming for a summer shipment.
Six people are currently living on the space station: two Americans, one Italian and three Russians.