December 18, 2010

Russia Claims Proton Rocket Not Reason For Launch Failure

Russian investigators said Friday that the Russian Proton rocket that failed to deploy its own satellite system was the result of a fuel miscalculation.

The rocket failed to reach orbit during the December 5 launch, causing it to dump the three high-tech Glonass-M satellites 900-miles off Hawaii's coast.

It was a setback for Russia's attempt to introduce a rival to the United State's Global Positioning System (GPS).

The last three satellites would have enabled Russia to fully deploy the system next year, meeting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's commitment to equip all new cars sold in Russia with Glonass readers in 2012.

Space officials said the calculation mistake was easy to correct and that they believed there was nothing wrong with the actual rocket.

"We have no questions regarding the Proton," investigating commission chief Gennady Raikunov told the Interfax news agency. "Its launches could be resumed."

Raikunov blames Energia Rocket And Space Corporation, which designed the carrier, for the incident.

He said that the company failed to account for the fact that the updated version of the rocket had bigger fuel tanks, which weighed more when filled up to the top.

"This increased the payload weight and the rocket did not have the energy to deliver the satellites to orbit," the space official said.


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