The Russian space agency’s Progress MS-15 cargo ship exploded when it returned to Earth on Tuesday (9), breaking into small fireballs as it passed through the planet’s atmosphere. The burning of the equipment occurred a few hours after it disengaged from the International Space Station (ISS), where it had been since July last year.
The Roscosmos “space truck” was launched to the orbital laboratory on July 23, 2020, carrying an important 2.5 ton cargo to supply the Station, which included food for astronauts and other types of supplies, as well as equipment for conducting scientific experiments in space.
After seven months in orbit, the Progress MS-15 separated from the ISS and followed a safe distance from there before starting to re-enter and burn in the Earth’s atmosphere, a planned and intentional maneuver known as “controlled spacecraft deorbiting” , commanded by the Roscosmos team on the ground.
The spacecraft’s explosion maneuver was accompanied by the Space Station crew, who recorded the event using a privileged view. One of them, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, shared a photo of the burning MS-15 Progress on his Twitter profile (see the image in the tweet above).
Shards targeting the Pacific Ocean
According to the Russian space agency, the pieces left over from the explosion did not pose any risk to people on the ground. “The cargo ship’s non-combustible fragments sank in a non-navigable region of the Pacific Ocean,” Roscosmos said.
With this mission completed, the agency is already preparing to launch the next Russian space freighter. Titled Progress MS-16, the spacecraft is due to depart from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the 17th, taking 2.5 tonnes of supplies back to the ISS.
Clothes, drinking water, fuel, nitrogen, sanitary and hygienic supplies, fresh food and different types of equipment are some of the items that will be in the midst of the space load.