Progress Cargo Ship of Russia Went Down In Flames

The Russian Progress cargo ship went down in flames (on purpose) on Monday (July 29), and a space station astronaut made sure to seize its fiery doom on camera.

“Mentioned goodbye to Progress 72 today to make room for 73P showing up on Wednesday. Caught this shot of it throughout reentry,” NASA astronaut Nick Hague wrote on Twitter Monday. “It appeared like an enormous firework that lasted minutes — flickering, sparking, and pulsing with brightness before it faded into the darkness.”

Hague watched Progress 72’s demise from the International Space Station, where he and five other space travelers bid farewell to the uncrewed cargo ship because it undocked itself from the Russian-built Pirs module after four months linked to the orbiting lab.

“It can reenter the Earth’s atmosphere loaded with trash and discarded gear for a fiery, however safe disposal over the Pacific Ocean,” NASA officials wrote in a status update Monday.

And reenter Progress 72 did.

As Hague’s picture shows, the disposable spacecraft broke apart right into a shower of bits because it burned up in Earth’s atmosphere. The cosmic funeral pyre marked the end of a delivery mission that started with an April 4 launch to the station.

Progress 72 delivered 3.7 tons of provides and gear to the station throughout its mission. That haul included 104 lbs. (47 kilograms) of oxygen and air; 926 lbs. (420 kg) of water; 3,117 lbs. (1,413 kg) of spare parts and equipment; and 3,375 lbs. (1,530 kg) Of propellant. Its departure makes way for a replacement cargo ship, Progress 73.

A Soyuz rocket by Russia is scheduled to launch Progress 73 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday (July 31) at 8:10 a.m. EDT (1210 GMT). The mission comes less than a week after the arrival of a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship at the station. That mission launched into orbit Thursday (July 25) and arrived on Saturday (July 27).