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Roscosmos to postpone next space launch pending Baikonur clean-up

September 11, 2013, 18:02 UTC+3

Concentration of contaminating substances in the area of the Proton collapse still exceeds permissible norms

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ASTANA, September 11 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscomos wants to postpone the next launch of the Proton-M rocket planned for September 17, its deputy chief, Sergei Savelyev, told a commission into the aftermath of the failed last rocket launch from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"We ask not to launch the Proton on September 17 until the area where the previous Proton collapsed is cleaned of toxic substances,” Kazakh Minister of the Environment Nurlan Kapparov said.

"We said in mid-August that until the problem of complete detoxification of the territory is achieved there can be no talk of launching the next Proton. Kazakhstan has not changed its position," the minister said.

Concentration of contaminating substances in the area of the Proton collapse still exceeds permissible norms despite considerable improvements achieved, the minister noted.

"We understand your position, we have heard you," the deputy Roscosmos chief said, adding he would inform his boss about the results of the discussion.

Earlier, Roscomos Chief Vladimir Popovkin said that the launching of the next "Proton" had been scheduled for mid-September.

Roscosmos asked the government of Kazakhstan for assistance in settlement of problems connected with future space launchings of the Proton-carrier rocket from Baikonur, Savelyev said. "Taking into account the importance of the use of the Proton for purposes of the implementation of the national space program, I appeal to the government of Kazakhstan, asking to render assistance in settlement of problems connected with the future space launchings," Savelyev told the commission into the aftermath of the failed rocket launch from Baikonur on July 2.

"We continue efforts to eliminate the after-effects of the rocket collapse. The positive dynamics of the clean-up made it possible to believe that it will be done by joint efforts," Savelyev said.

Earlier Wednesday, Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) chief Vladimir Popovkin said Russia will likely launch the next Proton carrier rocket in late September, 

Popovkin noted that the launch would take place only after the previous Proton failure was fully investigated.

A space expert told ITAR-TASS earlier that Russia would resume Proton launches after a thorough probe into the latest rocket crash in July.

“I have very serious doubts about the launch of the European satellite Astra-2E aboard the Proton carrier rocket scheduled for September 15 and announced by International Launch Services on its website,” the expert said.

“A thorough investigation has to be conducted first to prevent such situations in the future and make sure that all instructions have been fulfilled and only then continue working with the carrier rocket,” he said.

The Proton- M carrier rocket with three GLONASS satellites on board collapsed at Baikonur on July 2. The rocket crashed at a distance of approximately 2,500 meters from the launching pad.

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