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New dates of Glonass-K satellite launches to be determined next January

December 11, 2012, 15:40 UTC+3

Two satellites were to be placed into orbit this December, but cosmodrome experts have actually prevented abortive launches, identifying malfunctions of the upper stage rockets

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MOSCOW, December 11 (Itar-Tass) — The new dates of launches of the Glonass-K satellite and a military spacecraft from the Plesetsk cosmodrome will be determined in January next year, Deputy Defence Minister, Colonel-General Oleg Ostapenko told journalists.

“In the middle of January we will hold a meeting of the state commission at which the industry will report on what and how is decided within the framework of the settlement of the problem, and then the dates will be determined more exactly,” he said.

Both satellites were to be placed into orbit this December, but the cosmodrome experts have actually prevented two abortive launches, timely identifying malfunctions of the upper stage rockets.

Thus, in the case of a failed launch of the military satellite, manufacturing defects were found in the Briz-KM upper stage that was made by the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Centre. Ostapenko confirmed that there have been several problems with the control units that are manufactured by the St. Petersburg-based Research Institute of Command Devices. “Problems with the Briz upper stage emerged not without the involvement of this organisation,” he said. “Unfortunately, the quality of the organisation’s work leaves much to be desired.”

Glonass-K is the latest satellite design intended as a part of the Russian GLONASS radio-based satellite navigation system. Developed by Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems and first launched on 26 February 2011, it is a substantial improvement of the previous Glonass-M second-generation satellites, having a longer lifespan and better accuracy

The reason for the postponement of the Glonass-K satellite launch was technical unpreparedness of the Fregat upper stage, produced by the NPO Lavochkin Research and Production Association.

Fregat stages are currently used as the fourth stage of some Soyuz-FG launch vehicles. A version called Fregat-SB can be used with Zenit-2SB rocket. This version has a block of drop-off tanks which makes increased payload capability possible. Fregat-SB was launched for the first time on 20 January 2011, when it lifted the Elektro-L weather satellite into geosynchronous orbit.

Ostapenko said it was too early to talk about the return of the DM upper stage to the operation. The DM upper stage is produced by the RKK Energia Rocket Space Corporation, and it was decided to stop its use after the failed launches of the GLONASS system satellites in December 2010. “It is premature to talk about it now. There is a certain manufacturing defect, it was found by the State Commission. The industry has documented this fact. We will work out everything and will continue the work,” Ostapenko said.


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