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Proton-M spacecraft crash caused by old deficiency in engine design — Deputy PM

May 19, 2015, 13:37 UTC+3

The other factor leading to crashes, Dmitry Rogozin said, is the low level of wages in the industry

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Proton-M carrier rocket production site (archive)

Proton-M carrier rocket production site (archive)

© Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, May 19. /TASS/. An old deficiency in the construction of the engines was the cause for Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket on May 16, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday.

According to him, the recent crash "is miraculously similar" to the crashes in 1988 and 2014, when the state commission also failed to establish the exact causes for malfunctions.

"There is an old constructive deficiency and it is a matter of honor to detect this deficiency," Rogozin said.

The other factor leading to crashes, Rogozin said, is the low level of wages in the industry.

"People must be paid worthy salaries," the deputy premier said.

"Take a look at Rosatom [State Nuclear Energy Corporation], which functions normally because their young specialists are getting paid, if you excuse me, more than I am in the capacity of the deputy prime minister, and it is normal, it is the right thing," Rogozin added.

Russia may lose space launch market

Dmitry Rogozin has also warned that Russia may lose its 40% share on the world space launch market unless it raises labor productivity.

"Roscosmos state corporation will have to assimilate additive digital production and robotize customary technologies to cut the cost price of products and raise labor productivity," Rogozin said at the session of the lower house of Russia’s parliament.

"If we fail urgently to remedy the situation with labor productivity in the space industry, the flights of domestic carrier rockets and spaceships will soon become more expensive for us than for our partners. Today we hold 40% of the market of space launch services but we may slip far back with such indicators and finally lose the market," the vice-premier said.

Member of Russia’s Defense and Industrial Commission Board Oleg Frolov earlier said at a State Duma roundtable discussion that Russia held about 60% on the world market of space launch services as a whole. The creation of Roscosmos state space corporation will help build up Russia’s share on the international space services market, he added.

Recent Proton carrier rocket accident

Russia lost a Proton carrier rocket with a Mexican satellite aboard during an abortive launch on May 16.

The Proton-M carrier rocket with the Briz-M acceleration unit and Mexica’s Mexsat-1 satellite blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 08:47 a.m. Moscow time (05:47 GMT) on May 16.

The Briz-M acceleration unit with the Mexican satellite was expected to separate from the carrier rocket at 08:57 a.m. Moscow time (05:57 GMT). However, a minute before the designated separation, an emergency situation occurred at an altitude of 161 km, due to which the rocket’s head section and third stage failed to separate and burnt up in the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere above the Trans-Baikal area in East Siberia.

According to preliminary information, a breakdown occurred in a steering engine of the third stage, similar to the Proton accident last year.

The failure in the launch of the Proton-M carrier rocket in May 2014 was caused by a breakdown of a bearing in the turbine pump system of a steering engine.

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