Launch of Soyuz-2.1a carrying Progress M-27M spaceship ended with a failure

On April 28, 2015, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) conducted launch of Soyuz-2.1a rocket with Progress M-27M cargo spaceship to the International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur. However, spaceship was deployed into a wrong orbit, re-entered and burned into the Earth's atmosphere on May 8.

This was only the second mission for Russian cargo spaceships of Progress family that was launched atop new-generation Soyuz-2.1a rocket, not on Soyuz-U. Soon after the launch, media informed about problems that Progress M-27M faced on its way to the ISS. In its press-release dated May 12, Roscosmos presented preliminary results of the mission failure investigation. According to it, incorrect separation of Progress cargo spaceship from the rocket's 3rd stage took place on 527th second of flight.

Soyuz-2.1a carries Progress M-27M cargo spaceship during launch phase
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The incorrect separation resulted in situation, when Progress M-27M ocurred in an orbit, which is 40 km higher than the calculated one, and the 3rd stage was in 20 km lower orbit. Also, separation happened along with two sequencial events: depressurization of 3rd stage oxydizer tank, and then of a fuel tank.

Damages of the spaceship, occurred after incorrect separation from the rocket’s 3rd stage, was caused by design peculiarities of joint exploitation of cargo spaceship and launcher, related to their frequency and dynamic characteristics. Roscosmos press-release, issued on June 1 with the results of Progress M-27M mission failure investigation

On April 29, 2015, Vice-president of Ingosstrakh insurance group Alexander Podchufarov told RIA Novosti that Progress M-27M was insured by Ingosstrakh and SOGAZ insurance companies for 1.94 billion rubles ($38.2 million). Igor Komarov, chief of Roskosmos, told that total expences for Progress launch were estimated at 2.6 billion rubles ($51 million).

The spaceship was expected to deliver to the ISS more than 2.5 tons of cargo, including fuel, oxygen, food, equipment for scientific experiments, and personal items for astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the orbital station.

Progress M-27M (right) and its fairing with the Victory symbols (left). Credit: Roscosmos
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Progress M-27M was also expected to test some new equipment, in particular, satellite navigation system, to be used on a new-generation Progress-MS cargo spaceship. Maiden launch of this new Russian cargo spaceship to the ISS currently is scheduled for October, and also to be conducted atop Soyuz-2.1a.

Rosmosmos informs that it is updating flight schedule with its partners under the ISS program. Currently it is expected to be as follows:

  • June 11 - Expedition 42/43 returning on Earth on Soyuz TMA-15M spaceship;
  • July 3 - launch of Progress M-28M cargo spaceship to the ISS;
  • Late July - launch of Soyuz TMA-17M spaceship with members of the Expedition 44/45.

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