Russian Proton rocket falls back to Earth with super satellite (Update)

May 16, 2014 by Dmitry Zaks
File photo taken on April 28, 2014 shows a Russian Proton rocket, carrying Russian lay satellite Luch-5V and Kazakh communication satellite KazSat-3, blasting off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

A Russian rocket carrying its most advanced communication satellite to date fell back to Earth minutes after lift-off on Friday in the latest blow to the country's once-proud space industry.

Space officials said the Proton's control engine failed 545 seconds (just over nine minutes) after its nighttime blastoff from the Baikonur space centre Moscow leases in Kazakhstan.

State television showed the carrier and its Express-AM4P satellite burning up in the upper layers of the atmosphere above China.

"We have an emergency situation," Channel One television showed a Russian flight commentator as saying. "The flight is over."

Russia's Roscosmos federal space agency said it had formed a commission "to analyse the telemetric data and discover the reasons for the emergency situation."

The 150-million-euro ($205-million) satellite—built by Airbus Group's Astrium corporation—was meant to provide Internet access to far-flung Russian regions with poor access to communication.

Astrium said on its website that the Express-AM4P was set to become "the most powerful Russian telecommunications satellite" ever built.

Roscosmos said it was grounding the Proton—a workhorse of Russia's space industry that earns tens of millions of dollars a year by launching Western and Asian satellites—during the investigation.

Russia sacked its previous Roscosmos chief in October 2013 after less than two years on the job because of a string of failed launches and other embarrassing incidents to the country's underfunded but historic space industry.

New Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko has been charged by President Vladimir Putin with overhauling the entire sector with billions of dollars in extra state funding.

History of problems

The upgraded M version of the Proton has experienced a string of problems that have threatened Russia's reputation as a reliable but cost-effective alternative to US and European rockets.

The Proton-M was last grounded in July 2013 when it crashed back to Earth with three Russian-made Glonass navigation satellites.

The incident dealt a black eye to the Kremlin because it has touted the Glonass as a superior alternative to the US Global Positioning System (GPS) that was unfurled years before the Russian project.

A previous space commission said that failure was caused by the improper installation of three of the Proton's six angular velocity sensors.

Russia also grounded the Proton in August 2011 after the malfunction of an upper booster that is additionally employed in the launch of military satellites.

Astrium said on its website that the satellite lost on Friday had been due to replace another one that was built by the company but lost in the 2011 mishap.

Roscosmos said the Proton was scheduled to perform two more launches this year—one involving a new Glonass satellite and another to put up an "astrophysics craft" it failed to identify.

A space agency source told Interfax that the next mission scheduled for June 20 would now almost certainly be delayed.

"Launches resumed only three months after the last Proton accident," the unnamed industry source said.

Moscow fetes its rockets and still celebrates its ability to trump the United States during the Soviet-era space race by putting the first man in orbit in 1961.

It is also a source of national pride that has featured prominently in Kremlin politics.

The recent chill in East-West relations set off by the crisis in Ukraine prompted Russia to warn that it may prohibit the United States from using one of its newest rockets in the launch of its military satellites.

Moscow also hinted that it may turn down Washington's request to extend the lifespan of the International Space Station—a project that relies on the Soyuz system for manned launches—by four years through 2024.

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User comments : 19

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alfie_null
3.4 / 5 (5) May 16, 2014
How to fix Roscosmos? With a nod to the good old days, which many Russians seem to yearn for, maybe an extended holiday in a Siberian vacation camp for those associated with failed launches.
_ilbud
2.3 / 5 (15) May 16, 2014
This is such weak third rate propaganda. The Russians and Europeans (using Russian tech) can launch a man into orbit which is more than Americans can manage even with the engines they bought from the Russians. Maybe if the US spent less time committing war crimes and trying to install military bases in Ukraine they could afford to rebuild their once proud space program.
John92
1 / 5 (3) May 16, 2014
great news.
Writela
1 / 5 (2) May 16, 2014
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin a target of U.S. sanctions sparked by the Ukraine crisis said, that sanctions would boomerang against America's space effort and essentially told NASA to take a flying leap on a trampoline..

Apparently he didn't joke, though he didn't warn to broke all Russian rockets during it...
holoman
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2014
failure, is a failure, is a failure and the blame game is lame.
KBK
2.6 / 5 (5) May 16, 2014
This is what the USA is using for military launches, due to their 'extreme reliability'. The value of the US satellites is too high to allow Elon Musk and Space X to launch the military satellites. Might lose one!

So, the Government allows this launch company, comprised of Boeing and Lockheed, to use these Russian rockets, and pay about 10x time more money for the launches, and the launches, in return, are to be fault free.

Total insider horseshit, to hide black ops spending/extortion, says Occam's razor..

Yet we see here, that they are not fault free. Yet, Elon and Space X have a 'fault free' record, so far. At nearly 10x less expense, per launch.

The extant system of insider payoff is so intense, even with the publicity...that Space X is not being allowed to compete, a mumbling about a requisite 'record in launches'.

Well, the official US government public story (bullshit excuse) of why the US public is to be ripped off at 10x cost per launch, has now just bitten the dust.
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) May 16, 2014
So we're reporting about a rocket crash that's at a technical level beyond our current capabilities....what does that say about NASA and us?

I hope the Russians DO pull out of the ISS so we can forget that over-sized welfare erector set in LEO and concentrate on the Moon/Lagrange points, and the next REAL step out into space.
Modernmystic
4 / 5 (4) May 16, 2014
This is such weak third rate propaganda. The Russians and Europeans (using Russian tech) can launch a man into orbit which is more than Americans can manage even with the engines they bought from the Russians. Maybe if the US spent less time committing war crimes and trying to install military bases in Ukraine they could afford to rebuild their once proud space program.


Well apparently the moral standing of a regime has no effect on its space program. The Russians invaded the Ukraine without marked troops in ski masks. Thuggery at it's basic and most blatant level seen since WW II, Then they intimidated the local populace and pirated public buildings. We won't even start with the list of crimes China and North Korea perpetrate against their own citizens...
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (7) May 16, 2014
This is such weak third rate propaganda. The Russians and Europeans (using Russian tech) can launch a man into orbit which is more than Americans can manage even with the engines they bought from the Russians
While Russia has been relying on 50yo Cold War tech the US has been busy leapfrogging, and letting private enterprise develop capabilities cheaper, more versatile, and more reliable. BTW Russia's not selling us engines any more.
Maybe if the US spent less time committing war crimes
Please research the russian/afghan war wherein 2M afghans died. Russians lost 50k. This is victory by any measure.
Scottingham
5 / 5 (4) May 16, 2014
Space X for the win. They have yet to have a rocket explode.
bearly
1 / 5 (1) May 16, 2014
I hope they won't sell us any more of their rockets. We can do without them blowing our things up.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (4) May 16, 2014
Any sort of space-faring expedition is very risky, and these things happen. Bringing everything with you into space, and all the extremes that the craft is exposed to, with all its complexity and forces acting on it, well we are lucky to have every done it, let alone do it on a regular basis. I just feel that space "competition" is silly. There should be ONE space agency for the whole world, where we all contribute and pool our resources to pursue space exploration and setting up satellites for all mankind. We have one planet, and we should have one space agency. Competition on these endeavors does not work, as the amount of time and resources are enormous, it only makes sense that we work on it together.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.6 / 5 (7) May 16, 2014
There should be ONE space agency for the whole world, where we all contribute and pool our resources to pursue space exploration and setting up satellites for all mankind
That sounds so rosy and nice. One agency you mean like the post office?

Competition is the only way to get the best out of human beings. Preferably when the situation is dire like the Cold War.

We are a crisis-driven species. Another reason I eagerly await the birth of the Singularity. Everything that people are supposed to be, and so much more.
Pejico
May 16, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Pejico
May 16, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) May 17, 2014
Your comment just reveals the fact, that the cosmic research people are lobby, who do actually profit from cold war and they've motivation for escalation of tension between nations
Its NOT about money jigga. What good is money when the entity that legitimizes it collapses?

The Cold War was a sham. It enabled the control of the entire world by 2 superpowers who were for all intents and purposes on the same side.

It enabled the conquest of space. It gave the excuse to produce 1000s of tons of fissiles, arguably the most valuable material a civilization at our stage of development can possess. And it enabled the destruction of obsolete religion-dominated cultures throughout Eurasia which is now enjoying unprecedented stability.

There is only one Authority in this world. Empire. It Creates and It Destroys. It alone is concerned with the Greater Good. It alone will secure a future for our species despite its tendency to self-destruct.

Hail.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet May 17, 2014
There is only one Authority in this world. Empire.

There's a natural authority greater than all empires, past and present, combined: physics

It's the spirit of cooperation and collaboration which produces an entity greater than the sum of its parts. Deception and corruption are the only things that can defeat that spirit. If it should globalize with the connectivity provided by science and technology, war would be impossible, and the ensuing peace and prosperity would produce full-on progress in the arts and sciences. Rockets wouldn't fail (or they'd fail safely), jet airliners wouldn't vanish, the list goes on – basically a good time would be had by all.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
There's a natural authority greater than all empires, past and present, combined: physics
Empire is the Effort to return natural law to the governance of the human species. Natural law dictates that a species must reach equilibrium with its environment.
It's the spirit of cooperation and collaboration which produces an entity greater than the sum of its parts
This describes the internal dynamics if the tribe.
If it should globalize with the connectivity provided by science and technology, war would be impossible
-Only if science and tech can be used to reduce the growth rate.
and the ensuing peace and prosperity would produce full-on progress in the arts and sciences
Full-on progress occurs only when people are compelled. What people have always done during times of peace and prosperity, is propagate.
Rockets wouldn't fail (or they'd fail safely), jet airliners wouldn't vanish, the list goes on
Insipid. Naive. Sickening disneyism. You freak.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet May 18, 2014
Insipid. Naive. Sickening disneyism. You freak.

Hold on there. You're the one who can't wait for the birth of a superintelligent singularity. There's nothing wrong with what's available off-the-shelf in human capacity and ability. What do you know about birthin' singularities, anyway? Superfreak.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet May 18, 2014
Full-on progress occurs only when people are compelled. What people have always done during times of peace and prosperity, is propagate.

Speaking of carrots and sticks, humans don't propagate nearly as fast as rabbits, and more to the point they know how to grow all the carrots they need.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet May 18, 2014
Natural law dictates that a species must reach equilibrium with its environment.

Is there any species of which you're aware that violates the second law of thermodynamics to an extent greater than the human species does?

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