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Proton Failure Destroys JCSAT-11

By | September 6, 2007

      [09-06-07 –  Satellite News] JSAT Corp. has ordered another satellite to replace its JCSAT-11, which was destroyed in a Sept. 6 failure of a Proton rocket, JSAT said. The satellite operator ordered another A2100AX satellite from Lockheed Martin that is scheduled to be delivered in the summer of 2009.

      JCSAT-11 was lost when the Proton rocket suffered a second stage failure shortly after liftoff, launch provider International Launch Services (ILS) said. The satellite was slated to provide service to Japan, the Asia-Pacific region and Hawaii via 30 Ku- and 12 C-band transponders. JSAT said the loss of the satellite will not have any negative impacts on its operations and finances.

      The Proton has been in service since 1965 and has performed more than 300 launches with a reliability rating of 96 percent. This is the first failure of ILS Proton since March 2006 and the fourth overall. The Russian State agency has formed a commission to investigate the cause of the failure and recommend corrective action, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center said.

      This failure comes after the loss of a Sea Launch vehicle in January. Sea Launch is preparing for an October return to flight, but in the meantime, the supply of heavy-lift launch services is constrained.

      This puts constraints on an already tight market, says Jeff Foust, senior analyst for Futron Corporation, but he doesn¹t think it will have a long term impact on the market.
      “These failures go through cycles, and this time it’s ILS’ turn to have a failure,” Foust said. “It was Sea Launch’s failure earlier on, but if you go back a few years, it was Arianespace that was not looking to be in good shape because of the Ariane 5 failures. Just because a company is having a particular problem now doesn¹t mean that they can’t recover.”

      ILS had planned to launch about six more satellites by the end of the year, said Fran Slimmer, director of media relations for ILS. “We were anticipating another launch for a commercial customer next month,” she said, along with noting that the Russian government had announced two or three more launches before the end of the year. All of those missions have been suspended pending the results of a failure investigation.