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Russians Probe Rocket Malfunction

By | July 19, 2004

      The investigation into what caused the Zenit-3SL upper stage to halt its second burn almost a full minute earlier than scheduled currently centers around a Russia commission that was formed to address the malfunction.

      That panel is headed by RSC Energia, which manufactures Sea Launch’s Zenit-3SL upper stage, and the rest of the commission includes other independent consultants within the Russian space community to provide additional perspective on the investigation. The panel was formed in the days following the June 28 launch and its findings are expected soon, Paula Korn, a Sea Launch spokeswoman said.

      Sea Launch then will convene its own independent review board that will be headed by Kirk Pysher, the company’s vice president and chief systems engineer. That board will review the findings of the Russian commission, determine the root cause of the upper stage anomaly, and identify corrective action, as appropriate, Korn said.

      “We have to look at the results of the investigation to determine what, if any, corrective action needs to be made before we return to launching,” Korn said. “Depending on the investigation and its results, we then would determine when we can schedule the next launch.”

      Sea Launch’s independent review board would consist of both launch industry experts and customer representatives, Korn said. Customers will be included to assure them that “all the relevant issues” will be addressed, she added.

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