(The Blaze/AP) — An unmanned Russian supply ship bound for the International Space Station failed to reach its planned orbit Wednesday, and pieces of it fell in Siberia amid a thunderous explosion, officials said.
A brief statement from Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, did not specify whether the Progress supply ship that was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan had been lost.
But the state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Alexander Borisov, head of a the Choisky region in Russia’s Altai province, as saying pieces of the craft fell in his area some 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) northeast of the launch site.
“The explosion was so strong that for 100 kilometers (60 miles) glass almost flew out of the windows,” he was quoted as saying. Borisov said there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Watch a report here from Russia Today:
According to the video report, this crash is causing “tremors of nervousness in Roscosmos because this is the fourth hiccup as it were in under a year in their space program.”
The Russian Emergencies Ministry and Roscosmos officials could not be reached for comment.
The space agency statement said the third stage of the rocket firing the ship into space had failed at 325 seconds into the launch.
The ship was carrying more than 2.5 tons of supplies, including oxygen, food and fuel. Since the ending of the U.S. space shuttle program this summer, Russian spaceships are a main supply link to the space station.
There are six astronauts aboard the International Space Station, which orbits 350 kilometers (220 miles) above the Earth. They are Russians Andrei Borisenko, Alexander Samokuyayev and Sergei Volkov, Americans Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan.
“The supplies aboard the space station are actually pretty fat” after the resupply mission by space shuttle Atlantis in July, NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries said from Houston. “So we don’t anticipate any immediate impact to the crew.”
Humphries stressed that NASA was waiting to get more details from Russian space officials on what actually happened.
The Interfax news agency cited a Russian space analyst, Sergei Puzanov, as saying the space station had supplies already aboard that could last two to three months and “the situation with the loss of the Progress cannot be called critical.”
In July of 2010, a Progress supply ship failed in its first automatic docking attempt due to equipment malfunction, but was connected with the orbiting laboratory two days later.