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Russian space station cargo ship experiences anomaly, burns up

By Brooks Hays
Russian space station cargo ship experiences anomaly, burns up
The Russian cargo ship and rocket, Progress 65, prepare for takeoff at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo by RSC Energia/NASA

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Russia's Soyuz-U cargo vehicle experienced an anomaly and was lost in the upper atmosphere shortly after its launch Thursday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Engineers lost contact with the rocket and cargo ship exactly 6 minutes, 23 seconds after takeoff as it flew over the Tuva Republic in Southern Russia. Officials believe the rocket's third stage malfunctioned, causing the craft to veer off course and break up.

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"Most of cargo spacecraft fragments burned in the dense atmosphere," according to a statement from Roscosmos, Russia's space agency. "The State Commission is conducting analysis of the current contingency."

The cargo ship was to deliver food and equipment, but both Roscosmos and NASA say the failed delivery won't have much effect on the day-to-day operations of the International Space Station crew.

"Consumables aboard the station are at good levels," NASA said.

JAXA, Japan's space agency, is scheduled to launch a resupply mission using its H-II Transfer Vehicle on Dec. 9.

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