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Proton launches to be resumed in September

August 14, 2013, 19:41 UTC+3

Expert warns against resuming Proton missions too soon

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MOSCOW, August 14 (Itar-Tass) - Russia will resume Proton launches after a thorough probe into the latest rocket crash in July, a space expert told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday, August 14.

“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; the carrier rocket should be put back into operation,” he said.

The International Launch Services (ILS) Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) concluded its review on August 13, concurring with the conclusions of the Russian State Inter-agency Commission on the root cause and the associated corrective action plan of the July 2, 2013 Proton M/Block DM mission failure. It was carrying three GLONASS navigational satellites for the Russian Federal Government, but failed during take-off.

The members of the FROB agreed with the findings of the Russian investigation that the root cause of the failure was improper installation of the three yaw angular velocity sensors embeded in the Proton launch vehicle. The mistake caused the vehicle to deviate from its flight path shortly after lift-off.

“We very much appreciate the time, effort and participation of our customers, the insurance underwriters and technical experts in the FROB process. They worked tirelessly with us to ensure that the review was conducted thoroughly. As we work towards the return to flight of the Proton vehicle, we thank all of our customers for their continued support,” ILS Vice President of Programs and Operations, John Palme, said.

The ILS Proton return to flight mission will be the Astra 2E satellite launch for SES on September 15, 2013. The scheduling of the remainder of the ILS Proton near term manifest for 2013 is currently being determined.

Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Deputy Head Alexander Lopatin said in July that Russia would resume Proton carrier rocket launches in September at the earliest.

“The schedule of Proton launches will be moved to September. But we will make the final decision after all work has been completed,” he said.

“We need to wait for the commission to finish its work and devise a plan for avoiding such situations in the future, make sure that all instructions have been fulfilled and only then continue working with the carrier rocket,” Lopatin said.

Prior to the Proton-M accident in July, its next launch was scheduled for the same month under an international programme.

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