December 13, 2010

Russia Clears Rocket For European Satellite Launch

Interfax reported that Russia's space agency had delayed the launch of a European satellite after a rocket crashed off the coast of Hawaii last weekend.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement on Friday that initial preparations for the European satellite launch were "on schedule" but that the launch date would be set after the investigation.

The agency said that the Proton rocket could fly again in the last week of December after investigators have cleared the rocket from the crash that took place last weekend.

Russia was expecting to launch a telecommunications satellite for Paris-based Eutelsat on December 20.

The delay comes after a rocket launched on December 5 from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome failed to place three Russian navigation satellites into orbit.

Initial reports suggest that the rocket may have been carrying too much fuel or may have not been programmed correctly.

The investigators found no fault with the Proton rocket's three stages or its flight computer, clearing it for the launch of a massive European Ka-band communications satellite for Eutelsat in the last week of  December.

The satellites that failed to reach orbit were going to complete a navigation system called Glonass that the Russian government developed in order to rival the United States' GPS system.

After the KA-SAT mission, Proton teams will start to prepare for a dual-payload launch of Kazakhstan's Kazsat 2 and the commercial SES 3 communications satellites.


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