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Russian Proton Rocket Launches to Resume Sept 15 – Company

© Sputnik / Oleg Urusov / Go to the photo bankProton-M. (Аrchive)
Proton-M. (Аrchive) - Sputnik International
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The first launch of a Russian Proton space rocket after an accident last month will be on September 15, International Launch Services Inc. (ILS) said Wednesday.

MOSCOW, August 14 (RIA Novosti) – The first launch of a Russian Proton space rocket after an accident last month will be on September 15, International Launch Services Inc. (ILS) said Wednesday.

“The ILS Proton return-to-flight mission will be the Astra 2E satellite for [satellite operator] SES on September 15, 2013,” the company, owned by the Khrunichev Center, RSC Energia and US firm Space Transport Inc., said in a statement on its website.

“The scheduling of the remainder of the ILS Proton near-term manifest for 2013 is currently being determined.”

The launch suspension was ordered after a Proton-M rocket carrying three satellites for the Glonass positioning system, Russia’s answer to the GPS, crashed in a ball of flames, seconds after blasting off from Russia’s Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. The July 2 accident was the latest in a series of setbacks for Russia’s space program, and has prompted heavy criticism of the space industry by officials.

The company also said the ILS Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) concurred with the conclusions by the Russian State Inter-Agency Commission that the “root cause” of Proton-M mission failure was “the improper installation of the three yaw angular rate sensors located on the Proton launch vehicle, which caused the vehicle to deviate from its flight path shortly after liftoff.”

Last Monday, Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said that as many as five Proton launches could take place before next year.

Proton-M rockets have suffered a string of technical problems and launch failures in recent years. Three Glonass satellites were lost in December 2010 when a Proton-M rocket crashed into the Pacific Ocean, an incident that was subsequently blamed on engineers overloading the rocket with fuel. A control system glitch led to the loss of a Proton-M in 2011, and engine problems caused the failure of another Proton mission in 2012.

 

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