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Bits of the Russian Spacecraft that Spun Out of Control Hit Earth Today

There was no threat to humans.
Image: NASA

The remnants of the Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-27M that started plummeting back to Earth last week hit home earlier today.

According to a report by the BBC, Russia's space agency Roscosmos announced that "the Progress M-27M spacecraft ceased to exist at 05.04 Moscow time (02:04 GMT) on 8 May 2015. It entered the atmosphere… over the central part of the Pacific Ocean." As most of the spacecraft was burned up, only a few bits of debris hit Earth.

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The Russian cargo spacecraft, stocked with 6,000 pounds of food and fuel, was heading up to the International Space Station on a resupply mission. Although it separated from the Soyuz rocket without a hitch on 28 April, things soon got rocky. Roscosmos' ground controllers lost contact with it as faults in the propulsion system and navigational antennas made the spacecraft spin out of control. Plans to dock the spacecraft on 30 April were also abandoned.

A NASA blog post stated yesterday that no critical supplies for the United States Operating Segment (USOS) of the station were onboard. Both the Russian and USOS segments are well stocked enough to tide them over well beyond the next planned resupply mission.

Russian Progress cargo craft reentered Earth's atmosphere at 10:04pm ET over the Pacific. More: http://t.co/S5Raoh18Ia@fka_roscosmos
— NASA (@NASA) May 8, 2015

The falling debris—in case you're wondering—hit the ocean and posed no threat to humans. According to a report by the Guardian, about a tonne of fragments were expected to survive, but the chances of being hit by one were "almost infinitesimal." "Experts calculate that Progress 59 has a 62 percent chance of falling into an ocean or sea. Even if it falls on land, chances are that it will hit an unpopulated area," the report stated.

Space.com reported yesterday that Russia's State Commission for manned space complex flight tests had formed a board in order to investigate what went wrong, and to reach a conclusion by 13 May. A spokesperson from Roscosmos' press service told me that according to preliminary data, engineers over at the Russian space agency, "found some problems with the [spacecraft's] engine components."

Those wanting to track the spacecraft's final hours can do so via a special website created by a website dedicated to real-time satellite tracking, n2yo.com, showing multiple views of the spacecraft's descent to Earth.