Proton Puts Gazprom Satellite in Wrong Orbit

proton fail

Source RIA Novosti:

A Russian Proton-M rocket marked by International Launch Services failed to place a Gazprom Space Systems communications satellite into the correct orbit following a  5:13 PM launch (Moscow time)  from the Baikononur Space Center in Kazakstan on  Saturday, December 8.  According to early reports, the Yamal-402 satellite,  built by Thales Alenia and consisting of 46 KU band transponders, separated four minutes earlier than planned.  Provided it was not damaged in the pre-mature separation, controllers will attempt to recover as much utility as possible, using the satellite’s own reserves to boost in closer to the planned orbit.

The failure comes as another setback for the troubled Russian space industry, and will likely raise further questions about the wisdom of a policy which has left the United States dependant on Russia for crewed flight to the International Space Station, and then aggravated the problem by reducing funding to its own commercial Crew program.  It will also be another obstacle for beleagured  International Launch Services of Reston, Va.  which is under pressure from SpaceX on one hand, and ArianeSpace on the other, as it tries to cope with rising prices and falling reliability.

This latest problem comes only several months after a Briz-M upper stage failed on the third of four planned burns after a launch on August 6th. Proton also had failures in 2010 and 2011 as well.  Adding insult to injury, another Proton booster had to scrapped in November after being damaged in a train wreck.

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