Fragments of a Russian cargo ship carrying garbage and used equipment from the international space station crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean on Wednesday ahead of the arrival of a new cargo ship, a Russian official said.
Engineers undocked the Progress M-57 at around 2:29 a.m. (2329 GMT) and sent it hurtling toward Earth, said Vera Medvedkova, a spokesman for the Federal Space Agency.
Much of the ship burnt up as it re-entered the atmosphere, and fragments crashed in a vast area of the Pacific, some 4,200 kilometers (2,600 miles) east of New Zealand, just under four hours later, she said, reports AP.
A new Progess M-59 ship is scheduled to blast off Thursday and arrive some two days later, delivering 2 1/2 tons of fuel, spacewalk gear and other supplies for the two American astronauts and the Russian cosmonaut currently on board the station.
Russian manned Soyuz and unmanned Progress ships have long been the workhorses of the space station program, shuttling crews and cargo back and forth even while the U.S. space shuttle fleet was grounded.
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