Briz-M upper-stage fault behind Proton-M launch failure

14:30 30/08/2011
MOSCOW, August 30 (RIA Novosti)

A malfunction of the Briz-M upper-stage rocket reportedly caused the failure of a Proton-M rocket launch two weeks ago, Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday.

On August 18, a Russian Proton-M rocket lost the prized Express-AM4 satellite that was designed to provide digital television and secure government communications for Siberia and the Far East.

Russia's Proton-M rocket with the Express-AM4 satellite, © RIA Novosti. Oleg Urusov

The satellite was placed in the wrong orbit because of the malfunction of the Briz-M upper-stage rocket, the Roscosmos commission said.

The Briz-M manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center has had five failures over the 12-year history of operation.

The Russian aerospace industry has faced a series of misfortunes over the last nine months. In December, 2010, a Proton-M booster rocket failed to put three Glonass-M satellites into orbit. The launch of the Rokot booster rocket, carrying a military geodesic satellite Geo-IK-2 ended in failure in February.

After the first two mishaps, Roscosmos’s chief, Anatoly Perminov, was forced to resign.

One week after the Express-AM4 went off course, a Soyuz-U booster malfunctioned, preventing the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft from reaching orbit. Its debris landed in Gorny Altai, Russia.

Source: RIA Novosti

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