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MOSCOW, August 7 (Itar-Tass) — The decision on whether to continue or suspend the launches of the Proton-M carrier rockets with the Briz upper stage will be made after a comprehensive analysis of the situation by a special commission, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov said. He specified that the analysis is currently underway and it is difficult to make any predictions.
The launch of the Proton-M carrier rocket with two communication satellites that was carried out from the Baikonur cosmodrome ended in a failure. According to preliminary data of the Russian Federal Space Agency, the reason for failure was malfunction of the Briz-M upper stage. Two ignitions of the cruise engine unit passed normally. During the third ignition, which started according to the flight sequence, the engine shut down in seven seconds, instead of 18 minutes and 5 seconds.
“The signal from the upper stage was received from an emergency interim orbit,” said the Russian Space Agency spokesman. “Both satellites can be regarded as lost,” the official said.
The upper stage is currently being tracked by equipment of the Aerospace Defence Troops and Roskosmos. “The situation is being analysed hot on the trail, it is difficult to make any predictions,” Kuznetsov stated.
The Express-MD2 satellite was created by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre. This is the second spacecraft of the MD series, developed and manufactured by the Russian company. The spacecraft is designed for uninterrupted round-the-clock rebroadcasting of a flow of different information in the Russian satellite communication and broadcasting system. The Indonesian satellite Telkom-3 that was for the first time assembled in Russia was intended for the provision of telephone services and television broadcasting in Indonesia and Indochina.
On Monday at 23:31 MSK, the Proton-M carrier rocket with the Briz-M upper stage and two spacecraft – Russia’s Express-MD2 and Indonesian Telkom-3 satellites was carried out from launch pad 81 of the Baikonur cosmodrome.
At 23:41, Moscow time, the upper stage and spacecraft separated from the carrier rocket. The separation of the spacecraft - the Russian Express-MD2 and Indonesian Telkom-3 from the Briz-M upper stage and their placement on the target orbit was to take place in the period from 08:30 MSK to 09:15 MSK, Tuesday.
The Indonesian spacecraft Telkom-3 was to separate first (in 9 hours and 13 minutes after the start – at 08:44 MSK Tuesday), and the Russian satellite Express-MD2 – in half an hour (09:14 MSK).
It was the seventh launch of the Proton rocket in 2012 and its 379th flight.
The abortive launch of the Proton-M is not the first incident with these rockets. An incident with the Proton rocket in September 2007 evoked a wide response. Then the rocket, which was supposed to place in orbit a Japanese commercial satellite, fell near the town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan, where the country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev was staying at the time. The Kazakh authorities estimated that damage done to the country by the fall of the Russian Proton-M rocket was about 60 million US dollars.
In 2011, the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft was lost in a breakdown, the Geo-IK-2 military satellite was lost in the same year, as well as the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, designed to take soil samples from Phobos – one of the moons of Mars, and the Meridian dual purpose satellite.