For the first time after 135 launches, a Progress cargo ship failed to reach orbit on the 136th launch (since January 1978). Progress M-12M (44P) launched on 24/8, but the third/Blok 1 rocket stage of its Soyuz-U rocket failed 5m 25s into flight, achieving only a sub-orbital trajectory, and both crashed in the Choysk district of the Altai Republic (South Siberia).
- NASA ISS news
- Orbiter Forum thread
- MSNBC.com/Space.com report
- Progress infographic
This comes the week after the telecommunications satellite “Express-AM4” failed to reach orbit on 17/8 after the Briz-M upper stage of the Proton-M rocket lost power after its fourth burn (NASASpaceflight.com report). Both are manufactured by Khrunichev. The damage for this, including launch costs, exceeds 20 billion rubles.
Khrunichev also manufacture the RD-0110 (11D55) liquid-propellant rocket engine used on the 3rd stage of the Soyuz rockets
The loss of the cargo is a setback but is not yet critical for the ISS crew, who have enough supplies to last until the next Progress launch on 28/10 (STS-135 also brought up a lot of supplies). However the next crew launch in September will be delayed until the cause for the malfunction is found, as they go up on a Soyuz-FG. The ISS also needs Progress ships for its periodic reboostings.