Proton Return to Flight Postponed

Proton Return to Flight Postponed

International Launch Services (ILS) announced today that the Proton rocket launch scheduled for September 15 has been postponed.  The launch is the return-to-flight of Proton following a spectacular launch failure 17 seconds after liftoff in July.

The July failure doomed three Russian government GLONASS navigation satellites.   An investigation board determined that technicians installed three of six attitude control sensors upside down.   Exasperation on the part of Russian government officials as high as Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev on this latest in a string of Russian rocket failures stretching back to December 2010 has led to a public reprimand of Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, and the firing of three managers at the Khrunichev factory that built the rocket.

U.S.-based ILS markets the Proton rocket and announced that it would return to flight on September 15 carrying a commercial communications satellites, Astra 2E, for SES.

Today, ILS said that Khrunichev engineers “received an out of tolerance reading in the first stage of the vehicle” during tests yesterday and the rocket must be “returned to the processing hall for additional testing.”  A new launch date was not announced.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.