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Russian specialists working to eliminate Fregat booster’s malfunction at Kourou spaceport

The launch may be postponed from late February until March due to this situation

MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. Specialists from a Russian aerospace company are working at the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana to eliminate a malfunction of the Fregat upper stage for launching satellites of British company OneWeb by the Soyuz carrier rocket, a source in the rocket and space sector told TASS.

According to the source, "a microhole has been found in one of the upper stage’s pipes, which apparently emerged during a long transportation of the booster to the spaceport in French Guiana."

"Now the specialists of the Lavochkin Research and Production Association [Fregat’s manufacturer] are dealing with this malfunction, by the end of the week they should specify the types of the works needed for eliminating it," the source said.

The launch may be postponed from late February until March due to this situation.

Earlier, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Stephane Israel said the first satellites of British company OneWeb for ensuring broadband Internet had been taken to French Guiana and would be placed into the orbit by the Soyuz-ST rocket. Greg Wyler, Executive Chairman and Founder of OneWeb, earlier said the satellites’ launch was scheduled for February 19.

Satellite telecoms firm OneWeb plans to create a grouping of a large number of satellites to provide broadband Internet access to users across the world by covering the entire Earth’s surface. In 2015, Russia signed a contract for the launches of 21 Soyuz rockets with OneWeb satellites from 2017 to 2019.

OneWeb said earlier it intended to launch a larger number of its satellites with the help of Russian carrier rockets. Overall, OneWeb plans to launch 882 satellites to join the first generation of the grouping’s space vehicles while the second generation is expected to comprise about 2,000 satellites.