Russia OK's Soyuz and Proton Rockets for Return to Flight

Russia OK's Soyuz and Proton Rockets for Return to Flight

Russia is quickly recovering from the double rocket failures experienced in August.

Itar-Tass reports today that the Proton rocket will return to service on September 22. Its payload is identified only as a “defence satellite.” On August 18, a Proton rocket with a Briz upper stage malfunctioned stranding the Express-AM4 communications satellite in the wrong orbit. An investigating commission determined that it was caused by human error in programming the upper stage.

A few days later, on August 24, the third stage of a Soyuz U rocket failed dooming the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft it was carrying. The spacecraft was taking cargo to the International Space Station. A different, but similar, version of the Soyuz rocket is now scheduled to launch a navigation satellite on October 1. That launch originally had been scheduled for late August, but was postponed pending the review of the August 24 failure.

The Russians determined that a clogged fuel line was responsible for the Progress M-12M failure and that it was “accidental.” The next launch to ISS is now scheduled for October 30. It will be another Progress spacecraft. The first flight of a Soyuz (yet another variant) with a crew is scheduled for November 12.

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