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Two more Protons planned to be launched this year

May 16, 2014, 13:16 UTC+3 (updates) < (updates)

The Roscosmos chief noted there would be no launches until the cause of the emergency that occurred on Friday was established

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© ITAR-TASS/Roscosmos

MOSCOW, May 16./ITAR-TASS/. The Russian federal space agency Roscosmos planned two more launches of Proton-M rockets for 2014, the agency's chief Oleg Ostapenko told ITAR-TASS on Friday.

"Two more launches are scheduled for this year. A launch of Glonass satellites is planned, but if necessary. The second launch will be with an astrophysical satellite," he said.

The Roscosmos chief noted there would be no launches until the cause of the emergency that occurred on Friday was established.

An interdepartmental group was formed to investigate it. It was headed by a deputy director-general of the Central Machine Building Research Institute, Ostapenko said. The group was to present a report by mid-June, and then a decision would be made what to do further, he added.

The lost telecommunication satellite was insured for its full cost, he said without giving specific figures.

The Proton rocket carrying an advanced telecommunications satellite failed to reach its designated orbit and crashed shortly after its launch on Friday.

The rocket was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 01:42 Moscow time on Friday (21:42 GMT on Thursday) but an "emergency" prevented it from coming into orbit, Roscosmos said.

The problem arose with the third stage about nine minutes after the launch at an altitude of 161 km, and parts of the satellite may have burned up in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

No casualties or other damage were reported.

Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko told ITAR-TASS on Friday no parts of the rocket, the upper stage and the satellite reached Earth. "According to our preliminary information, nothing has reached Earth," he said.

When the emergency occurred, the rocket was over China, he added.

As was reported earlier, the Proton-M with the Express-AM4R communication satellite burned up in the atmosphere over the Pacific.

The failure to orbit the satellite was caused by malfunction of the steering engine of the third stage, 540 seconds after the launch.


History of Proton launchings

The last Proton launch failure occurred on June 2, 2013, when a minute after the liftoff, the space vehicle with three Russian Glonass-M navigation satellites fell within the territory of the Baikonur cosmodrome, 2.5 km away from the launch complex. About 600 tonnes of propellant components were in the rocket at the moment. Most burned up in an explosion. There were no casualties and no damage on the ground. The loss of the satellites was estimated at 4.4 billion rbls ($126.5 mln). The launch was not insured. The failure was caused by incorrect installation of equipment during the assembly work in November 2011. After the accident, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a reprimand to Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin, who was removed from office later.

The Express-AM4R satellite which was being carried into orbit is the most advanced telecommunications satellite used by Russia, designed to provide affordable Internet access to people in remote parts of the country.

The satellite was made by the European company EADS Astrium for Russia's Space Communication company to cover the entire territory of Russia and other CIS countries. Its weight was 5,755 kg. For its characteristics, it is similar to Experss-AM4, which was put into an unplanned orbit in August 2011.

Express-AM4R is Russia's most powerful and high technological communication satellite. It is the third of the Express series launched this year. On March 16, 2014, a Proton successfully orbited Express-AT1 and Express AT satellites.

Express-series satellites are insured for 2.5 bln rbls ($71.9 mln).

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