Russia 'loses contact' with satellite after launch

Aug 18, 2011
Russia has lost contact with a major new telecommunications satellite, the Express-AM4, hours after its launch into orbit, reports said on Thursday.

Russia was attempting to locate its major new telecommunications satellite on Thursday just hours after launch in what could be another serious mishap for its space industry.

The Express-AM4 satellite was launched at 1:25 am Thursday (2125 GMT Wednesday) from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to provide digital television, telephone and Internet services across Russia.

Russia's Roskosmos space agency said in a statement that the launch went ahead as planned and the satellite together with the upper stage rocket separated in due time.

However "there were problems ahead of the planned fifth transmission of telemetric information and in attempts to receive a signal" from both the rocket and the satellite, it said.

"Currently measures are being taken to establish communication with the Express-AM4 satellite," Roskosmos said.

The Express-AM4 satellite was launched in the early hours of Thursday morning from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and was due to provide digital television, telephone and Internet services across Russia.

Later on Thursday Roskosmos said it had found the Briz-M upper stage rocket, which would have separated at 10:38 a.m Moscow time (0638GMT) from the satellite.

Newly appointed Roskosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin recently anounced that Russia would like to reduce its focus on manned flights and engage in more commercially rewarding spheres such as telecom and Internet satellite launches.

Losing the Express-AM4 would be a major blow to the new management of Roskosmos. Popovkin's predecessor Anatoly Perminov was sacked in April after three navigation satellites missed their orbit and crashed into the ocean.

The 5.7 tonne Express-AM4 satellite was developed jointly with France's EADS Astrium and is the biggest in Europe. It was supposed to support the widely announced shift to digital broadcasting in Russia.

Explore further: NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Russia launches US satellite into space

Apr 24, 2010

A Russian Proton rocket carrying a US AMC 49 telecommunications satellite was launched into orbit on Saturday, the Russian space agency said on its website.

Russia launches US satellites in third attempt

Jul 13, 2011

A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully carried six US Globalstar satellites into orbit on Wednesday after postponing the launch twice earlier this week, Russia's space agency said.

Recommended for you

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

European space plane set for February launch

Nov 21, 2014

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Space station rarity: Two women on long-term crew

Nov 21, 2014

For the 21st-century spacewoman, gender is a subject often best ignored. After years of training for their first space mission, the last thing Samantha Cristoforetti and Elana Serova want to dwell on is the ...

User comments : 18

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 18, 2011
Stolen! Just like to mach 20 test planes sent up by U-No-Who just the other day.
OK, I'm being facetious, but it's a definite possibility these days.
SlashV
4 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Anonymous prolly moved on to a new challenge: DDOS'ing satellites.
rawa1
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
Maybe it collided with some debris surrounding the Earth.
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2011
Very incomplete article. What Russia lost contact with was actually the Breeze-M upper stage between the 4th and 5th burns. The payload never left the upper stage of the rocket. This was a rocket failure, not a glitchy satellite.
rawa1
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
If true, then such an "report incompleteness" is not accidental at all.
The lost of such an expensive satellite will decrease the trustworthiness of Russians and it will increase the insurance costs significantly.
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Although, if we're going all conspiracy theory, my money is on the aliens responsible for the arrow on titan.
LKD
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
and it will increase the insurance costs significantly.


I don't believe there is insurance on satellites.

On the bright side, there's never anything good on TV, so it's not a major loss. ;)
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2011
Satellites do indeed have insurance, and this one was actually insured. No one spends the kind of money required for building and launching a satellite like this without having insurance. micro and pico sats, and university research sats MIGHT go uninsured, but thats about it.
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
Moscow. August 18. INTERFAX.RU - Lost satellite "Express-AM4" insured "Ingosstrakh," the agency "Interfax-AFI" in the insurance company.
As a spokesman said, according to the agreement, Unhatched the target orbit is an insurance case.
According to him, "the satellite was insured for the full sum insured."
Previously, the company agency reported that the satellite "Express-AM4" was insured for more than $ 7 billion rubles and reinsured in the international market.

http://www.interf...d=204035

Sorry for the untranslated bits, I just ran it through google's translation.
LKD
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
Thank you for the correction. I for one wouldn't put venture capitol on a satellite launch, that's obscenely risky, but I guess they did. Good for them!
Temple
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
Thank you for the correction. I for one wouldn't put venture capitol on a satellite launch, that's obscenely risky, but I guess they did. Good for them!


Insurance companies rarely loose money. It's a very profitable venture, even insuring incredibly risky things like shipping, satellites, automobiles, etc.

Insurance companies try very hard to assess the risk of loss. If they suppose there's a 10% chance that a satellite will be lost (using their most conservative estimates), the cost to insure it is likely going to be in the neighbourhood of 15% of its replacement cost. In that example, for every 10 of those (let's say equally priced) satellites launched, they expect to profit 50% of the total cost of the satellite. They can get unlucky, but generally the big insurers have very wide portfolios, all expecting profit, which helps even out the variance.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
"Previously, the company agency reported that the satellite "Express-AM4" was insured for more than $ 7 billion rubles and reinsured in the international market." - Yehaw

Isn't that 17 trillion U.S. dollars?
jsdarkdestruction
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
nah, according to the google currency converter.
7 billion Russian rubles = 240.34500 million U.S. dollars
LKD
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
Insurance companies rarely loose money. It's a very profitable venture, even insuring incredibly risky things like shipping, satellites, automobiles, etc.


This topic reminds me of the stories of private investors that insured the World Trade towers. They lost every penny of their investment that day.
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
Not entirely true LKD. Even insurance companies have insurance against loss. Re-insurers (like GlobalRe) insure insurance companies. Re-insurers are the ones who really lost their pants on 9-11. But risk generally gets spread out pretty thin with multiple layers of insurance. But we are now entirely off topic....
LKD
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
fmfbrestel,

Yes. Still, this is a topic I would really love to see an article about. It would be really enlightening (to me at least) to understand where the money to put these satellites into space come from or goes to.
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2011
If you are interested in the nitty gritty details of spaceflight, the best resource I have found is the Nasa hosted spaceflight forums. I only lurk there because the posters tend to be actual, current or retired, rocket scientists.

http://forum.nasa...x.php#14

That is where I got the details of this rocket failure. They had it scooped long before physorg posted this article.
LKD
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
Thanks very much. It'll likely be way over my head, but you can't swim on shore. :)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.