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Russia postpones military satellite launch over space freighter accident — source

May 15, 2015, 12:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The source said production defects have causes accidents in the past few years with carrier rockets and the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile
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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, May 15. /TASS/. The launch of a Kobalt military satellite from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk Region in north Russia has been delayed until June over the recent Progress space freighter accident, a source in the Defense Ministry said on Friday.

The launch of the Kobalt military satellite aboard a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket was initially scheduled for May 15.

"A final decision on the launch date has not yet been made but considering that the exact causes for the emergency situation with the Progress space freighter have not been established so far and this will take several weeks, it is clear that the launch of the Soyuz rocket will take place no sooner than June," the source said.

A production defect is currently considered as the primary cause for the accident with the Progress space freighter that went out of control and burnt up in the dense layers of the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, the source said.

"Precisely production defects have been the cause of accidents in the past few years with carrier rockets launched by Roscosmos [the Federal Space Agency] and the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile," the source said.

Space freighter accident

The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Progress space freighter blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on April 28. However, the carrier rocket failed to put the cargo ship into a designated orbit and Russia’s Mission Control lost communications with the space freighter that was intended to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

The Progress cargo ship burnt up in the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean in the morning of May 8.

Roscosmos later said the accident had been caused by the "off-nominal separation of the third stage of the Soyuz and Progress space vehicles" as a result of the fuel tanks’ depressurization.

The causes for the Progress space freighter accident are currently being investigated. The results of the investigation are expected to be announced before May 22.

Roscosmos First Deputy Head Alexander Ivanov earlier said preparations for the launch of a military satellite from the Plesetsk space center had been suspended until May 22 over the Progress space freighter accident.

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