Progress 59, the unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft, that went out of control more than a week ago, is set to re-enter Earth's atmosphere within hours, and burn up, according to Russian state media.
“According to Roscosmos experts, the Progress cargo spacecraft… will cease to exist on May 8, presumably from 00:45 a.m. Moscow time to 6:36 Moscow time,” the Russian space agency said in a statement, Sputnik News reported.
The area of its re-entry into Earth is unknown. Small parts of the craft which do not burn up may fall to earth, CNN reported.
An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft, carrying food and fuel for the astronauts at the International Space Station, is slowly spinning out of control towards earth, experts told The Guardian.
Russian flight controllers lost contact with Progress 59 as it passed over Russian ground stations, according to NASA.
The spacecraft was launched from Kazakhstan on Tuesday and is carrying more than 6,000 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) crew of six. Its U.S. supplies include spare parts for the station's environmental control and life support system, crew clothing, and backup spacewalk hardware.
These supplies are not critical for the United States Operating Segment of the station, NASA said.
According to satellite tracking websites, Progress 59 was passing over southern England and London on Wednesday, The Guardian reported. It is traveling at around 17,000 miles an hour.
The Russian flight control team have made several unsuccessful attempts to confirm the status of the spacecraft's systems but have been unable to re-establish contact. The 2.5 ton vehicle has entered into a slow spin, flight controllers confirmed.
ISS crew members told the Associated Press that flight controllers had given up trying to command control of the craft.
However a NASA spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that their Russian colleagues "are still assessing the vehicle and the plan going forward."
An American ISS crew member, Scott Kelly, told the AP that the craft would fall out of orbit and re-enter the atmosphere sometime soon.
"Docking has been called off for the Progress 59 spacecraft," a NASA spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
"Russian flight controllers are continuing to assess the vehicle and what the plan going forward will be," the spokesperson said. She did not confirm if the craft was "out-of-control" and if it had begun its descent to earth.
Controllers previously postponed docking the craft at the ISS. According to NASA, an unspecified problem prevented Russian flight controllers from determining whether the craft's navigational antennas had deployed and whether it pressurized correctly.
The flight control team made several attempts to confirm th status of several systems' status during Progress 59's first four Earth orbits, but failed.
Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who was a former ISS commander, tweeted that the craft would slowly fall and burn up.
Hadfield said that it was too soon to be able to predict where the craft will enter the atmosphere.
"Not everything will burn up and if it's an uncontrolled entry then there will be fragments that will hit the surface," Thomas Reiter, director of human spaceflight and operations at the European Space Agency told The Guardian. "If my colleagues can't get it under control, that could be within a week, maybe one and a half weeks at most."
The six ISS crew members were safe and had sufficient supplies, NASA said Tuesday.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.