Russia Lifts Proton Breeze-M Suspension
[Satellite TODAY 09-01-11] Russian space agency Roscosmos will resume launching its Proton Breeze-M rocket after a Russian state investigation determined the cause of the rocket’s upper-stage engine failure last week that placed Russian Satellite Communications Co.’s Express-AM4 satellite into an improper orbit, Roscosmos officials confirmed Aug. 30.
A Russian state board of inquiry concluded that the Breeze-M failure was due to a poorly programmed sequence for its guidance system. Roscosmos was then cleared to resume operations for the vehicle on the grounds that the agency would take corrective actions to fix the problem.
“This [launch failure] resulted in an off-nominal orientation of the Breeze-M and, as a consequence, in injecting the [Express-AM4] into an off-design orbit. All other Breeze-M flight control systems have maintained performance within specs. The he ban on Proton-M/Breeze-M ground processing has been lifted, and appropriate recommendations have been prepared, to be implemented prior to the upcoming launches,” Roscosmos said in a statement.
It remains unclear whether the Express-AM4 satellite can be recovered. Built by Astrium, the spacecraft was insured for approximately $300 million. Roscosmos said the satellite’s solar arrays have not deployed.