Russia schedules first Proton rocket launch since crash

July 29, 2015
A Russian-built Proton rocket blasts off from a launch pad at Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome on April 28, 2014
A Russian-built Proton rocket blasts off from a launch pad at Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome on April 28, 2014

Russia on Wednesday set a date for the first Proton rocket launch since an engine failure in May saw a Mexican satellite destroyed.

Authorities said a Proton-M rocket would blast off from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan on August 28 carrying a British Inmarsat-5F3 commercial communications satellite.

A similar rocket bearing a Mexican satellite fell back to earth on May 16 after suffering an engine malfunction, in one of a string of embarrassing failures for Russia's troubled space programme.

The state-run Khrunichev Centre spacecraft maker said that a probe into the disaster showed it was due to a construction flaw in one of the engines.

"A plan to eradicate the reasons for the engine failure has been fulfilled," it said in a statement.

The Proton-M failure in May came exactly a year after the same model of rocket carrying Russia's most advanced communications satellite fell back to Earth minutes after lift-off. That accident was later blamed on a damaged ball bearing.

Based on a Soviet-era design, the Proton-M is viewed as one of the workhorses of the space industry and Russia is developing a new generation of rockets to succeed it.

The May accident also happened a few days after an unmanned Russian Progress cargo craft burnt up in the Earth's atmosphere after suffering a communications failure on its way to the International Space Station (ISS).

Last week three astronauts arrived safely at the orbiting research station on the first manned flight since the malfunction.

Explore further: Russia successfully launches Proton-M rocket after accident

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