MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will launch the first Proton-M unmanned carrier rocket in three months on Monday, bringing into orbit a European telecom satellite, the country’s space agency said Sunday.
The rocket carrying the Astra 2E satellite will blast off the Baikonur space port in Kazakhstan at 1:38 a.m. Moscow time (9:38 p.m. Sunday UTC), a spokesman for Roscosmos told RIA Novosti.
The previous Proton-M launch on July 2 ended in a crash seconds after start. The incident, which led to the loss of three navigation satellites for Glonass, Russia’s answer to GPS, was blamed on sensors installed upside down and hammered in to fit by careless manufacturers.
The incident boosted Russian government’s plans to revamp the country’s space industry, which saw a string of failed launches in recent years. A draft of the reform, which proposes to consolidate the 100-plus state-run space industry enterprises into one corporation or half a dozen holdings, was recently filed with the Cabinet and is now under review.
The six-ton Astra 2E, manufactured in France for Luxembourg-based SES S.A. satellite operator, will provide television and radio broadcasts, as well as mobile and internet communications for users in Europa, Africa and the Middle East.