ISS Astronauts Just Watched Russian Spacecraft Burn Up in Earth’s Atmosphere (photos)

Astronauts working aboard the International Space Station recently watched Russian Spacecraft burn up in some rare atmospheric fireworks. On Wednesday (Nov. 29), the Russian Progress MS-23 cargo spacecraft left the International Space Station (ISS) with a load of waste that is no longer aboard the ISS.

The Russian Spacecraft was specifically carrying “old equipment and household waste, or everything the experts have decided to toss from the station,” Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko told Russian media outlet TASS.

How Astronauts Were Able To Spot The Russian Spacecraft

The Russian Progress MS-23 cargo ship burns up in Earth’s atmosphere on Nov. 29, 2023. (Image credit: NASA/Jasmin Moghbeli )

After the spacecraft undocked from the ISS, it flew for hours before arriving in our atmosphere. NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli spotted the Progress MS-23 spacecraft making its reentry exactly four hours after undocking. Moghbeli used high-definition cameras to capture mindblowing images of the spacecraft as it burns up in Earth’s atmosphere.

“It happened faster than I thought and was only visible for about 2-3 minutes. It reminded me a bit of fireworks, especially when it broke apart,” Moghbeli wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday. “Thanks to those on the ground who helped direct me in where to look!”

Roscosmos reported that most parts of the Spacecraft and its contents burned up in Earth’s atmosphere. However, some of the materials still managed to plunge into the Pacific Ocean.

Fiery reentries like this exist as standard practice for non-reusable cargo craft leaving the ISS. The Russian Progres Capsule and the Northrop Crumman’s Cygnus Vehicle are two out of three spacecraft currently used to make freight deliveries. Cygnus vehicles are occasionally disposed of in the atmosphere after they have completed their deliveries.

The essence of disposing of the vehicle is to create free docking ports for new cargo. SpaceX Dragon capsule is the third spacecraft currently in use to deliver cargo to space. However, the Dragon capsule can travel back to Earth and safely splash down for future reuse.

Next Possible Mission To ISS

The Russian Progress MS-23 cargo ship burns up in Earth’s atmosphere on Nov. 29, 2023. (Image credit: NASA/Jasmin Moghbeli )

Another powerful Progress Spacecraft is about to launch into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:25 a.m. EST (0925 GMT) on Friday, Dec. 1. This forthcoming spacecraft will carry about three tons of food, fuel, and other supplies to orbit.

The Expedition 70 mission astronauts and cosmonauts currently in orbit will use these supplies to continue meeting their daily needs aboard the ISS. Hence, the spacecraft will likely dock with the ISS on Sunday (Dec. 3) at 6:14 a.m. EDT (1114 GMT).

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