Baikonur, we have a problem… (Russia, Indonesia lose new telecoms satellites after ‘botched’ launch)

7 Aug 2012

Russian launch vehicle Proton-M has failed to push the Briz-M upper stage booster, accompanied by two telecommunications satellites, Express-MD2 and Telekom-3, into its planned orbit, the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) has admitted. The two multi-million dollar satellites were set to provide Indonesia (Telekom-3) and Russia (Express-MD2) with telecoms connectivity, and the failed launch represents the latest in a series of notable failures that have dogged Russia’s once-pioneering space industry. An error shortly after take-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan on Monday effectively replicates a mishap that saw the USD265 million Express-AM4 satellite scrapped last summer, casting further doubts on the reliability of the Russian technology. Roskosmos confirmed that the Briz-M booster had fired its engines on schedule, but they only burned for seven of the programmed 18 minutes and five seconds needed to push the satellites into their planned orbit. ‘The chances that the satellites will separate from the booster and reach the designated orbit are practically non-existent’, a space industry source confessed.

Indonesia, Russia