Russians search for crashed spaceship in Siberia

August 25, 2011

(AP) -- Russian authorities said Thursday they are using helicopters in their search for the wreckage of the unmanned supply ship that crashed and exploded in a forested area in Siberia.

The spaceship was launched from the in Kazakhstan some 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) southwest of the crash site. It fell after the third stage of its booster rocket failed a few minutes into the launch, in the Choisky district in Russia's Altai province.

The Progress ship carrying almost 3 tons of supplies to the was destroyed. The rocket failed barely a month after NASA's final space shuttle flight.

The Russians will be transporting astronauts to the space station until U.S. private industry can pick up the human load.

While the International Space Station has more than enough supplies, Wednesday's accident threatens to delay the launch of the next crew, just one month away. That's because the upper stage of the that failed is similar to the ones used to launch astronauts to the station.

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, said that the accident "would have no negative influence" on the International because its existing supplies of food, water and oxygen are sufficient. There are six astronauts aboard the station that orbits 350 kilometers (220 miles) above the Earth.

This is the second lost in the past nine months - last December, a rocket and its payload of three fell into the Pacific Ocean after failing to reach orbit.

Russia's General Prosecutor's Office said that some 40 lumberjacks were working in the thick forest of where the Progress ship blew up with a thundering boom on Wednesday.

Choisky district administration told the Itar Tass news agency that the lumberjacks returned to their villages "safely."

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