8 May 2015

Spacecraft burn-up imminent

2:27 pm on 8 May 2015

A Russian spacecraft tumbling uncontrollably around Earth is expected to burn up in the next few hours.

Progress M-27M

Progress M-27M Photo: AFP

Progress M-27M, an unmanned space cargo capsule, is carrying food, fuel and supplies intended for the International Space Station. It encountered problems when it reached orbit about 10 days ago.

Russian space officials said the Progress supply ship should almost completely incinerate during re-entry and poses no threat.

Two astronauts spending a year on the ISS, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, told the Associated Press news agency that flight controllers had given up hope of controlling Progress again.

Wellington-based space researcher Duncan Steel said it had been spinning out of control ever since, crossing New Zealand twice a day.

He said the space craft was due to re-enter the earth's atmosphere in the next day or so, and while most of of it will burn up, some debris could fall either into the ocean or on land.

Mr Steel said nothing was likely to hit New Zealand.