Did a Russian Home Get Hit by Progress Space Debris?

Article written: 8 May , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

[/caption]The Russian supply ship for the International Space Station successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:37 pm EDT (10:37 pm Moscow time) on Thursday to carry 2.5 tonnes of supplies to the orbiting crew. Progress 33 will take over from Progress 32 that was filled with rubbish and unwanted instrumentation and de-orbited on May 6th, sent on its way to burn up over the Pacific Ocean on May 18th.

It seems the spaceship exchange went according to plan. Progress 33 launched, Progress 32 de-orbited and the space station is stocked until the next delivery.

However, a small village in South Siberia didn’t have such a harmonious evening; a chunk of the Progress rocket booster fell onto a house.

Or did it…?

Space debris sometimes falls to Earth, as does debris from Russian air activities, and it looks like the village of Baranovka in the Siberian Altai Region has just become the target for some more space junk.

This time, local residents reported hearing two sharp cracks and then a crash when something fell on the roof of a two-storey apartment block. Immediately the emergency services were called and fire fighters found a 1×4 foot piece of metal. It has been confirmed that this piece of debris originated from the Progress rocket launched earlier that night.

Fortunately there were no injuries and no significant property damage.

Regardless, the Russian space agency appears to be concerned that somebody is out to get compensation. “There is only one fragment and the house is not within the calculated area of possible debris fallout,” said a space agency spokesman. “In any case, there are no casualties or material damage, according to our information.”

The agency added that locals may have found the rocket debris elsewhere, transported it to Baranovka, put it on the roof and then claimed it fell from the sky.

To be honest, so long as there are no faked concussions or claims of “pain and suffering”, I suspect the residents won’t be suing for damages. (As there doesn’t appear to be any damage.)

I hope they get to keep the rogue bit of rocket though. That would make a great trophy in the village bar!

Source: Mos News, Space Fellowship


5 Responses

  1. Jon Hanford says

    This isn’t the first time that a piece of a Russian rocket (from a manned or unmanned mission) has ‘impacted’ civilians on Russian territory or that of the former Soviet Republics. Cases have gone to court and some awards have been made to compensate civilians affected by launch debris( none have been for ‘pain and suffering’ or ‘mental anguish’ ). So I can see why the Russian government may be in denial mode here (and I do agree I don’t see where significant physical damage has been done in this case). Thanks, Ian, for your report of this (continuing) problem in the Russian space program.

  2. Naoviotaire says

    I love me some Russian invincible math. It’s unthinkable not to have it and not have it be applied to calculate doublespeak – like, from wily villagers for example. Villagers and their crazy agendas after all; who else is devious? Not ancient impeachable sputniks.

    The agency also defaults to a red herring stance of no injures/no damage/no problem. Thumbs up.

  3. 4gea says

    Ocassional fall of space debris is hardly just or mainly Russia’s problem. And their space program still seems to be more successful than others, in terms of numbers and success rate of launches.

  4. softeky says

    I wonder what the actual geometry of the shape was. I used to drop paper shapes to see which ones travelled farthest and slowest. Some of the most successful “travelers” were rectangular shapes that would spin (tumble) along their long axis, the spin would slow down the rate of fall and, if the material was of low density but fairly stiff, would perform better than some constructed gliders.

    It should be possible test the gliding characteristics of the recovered debris to see if it could be induced to convert it’s falling energy into rotational. It would also not be hard to calculate the rotational energy transfer on impact added to the descent speed – to give an estimate of expected damage to the structure where the object was found.

    Might be a fun investigation and I’ll bet it would significantly change the “calculated area of possible debris fallout”.

  5. star-grazer west coast says

    Unfortunately, this will happen again and again for anyone who sends objects into Earths’ orbit or downrange-what goes up must come down, although, hopefully, planned.

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