October 8, 2005
Experimental Russian Spacecraft Missing
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian and European teams searched for an experimental mini-spacecraft on the eastern peninsula of Kamchatka on Saturday, a day after the prototype was test-launched from a nuclear submarine thousands of miles away, news reports said.
The Demonstrator spacecraft - designed to carry cargo and passengers from the international space station to Earth - was launched from the submarine Borisoglebsk in the Barents Sea on Friday and was reported to have descended toward its target on time.
Russian news agencies and television, however, later reported that engineers had no communication with the craft and had to call off the search at nightfall.
Officials were not immediately available for comment Saturday.
On Saturday, the Borisoglebsk also conducted a successful test firing of a ballistic missile, hitting a target on Kamchatka, the Defense Ministry said. The Barents Sea is a section of the Arctic Ocean northwest of Russia and north of Norway.
The Demonstrator is intended to be folded up and transported to the international space station on a Russian Progress cargo ship and will be used to bring payloads back to Earth, designers say.
The ship's collapsible, cone-shaped body is made of light material that can withstand high temperatures and it can fly on a predictable trajectory without engines - making it a cheap alternative to the Soyuz spacecraft currently in use.
It was built on contract for the European Space Agency and the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., Interfax said.