Russian rocket failure: “Punish those responsible”

Rocket failures are not new, but they seem to happen all-too-often with Russia’s Proton rocket system. Even satellite handling at the Baikonur cosmodrome has seen foolish mistakes happen which have cost millions of dollars to remedy.

But Russia’s prime minister (and former president) Dmitry Medvedev, addressing a cabinet meeting in Moscow on August 9th, promised to punish all those responsible for the latest failure. On August 7th a Proton-M rocket failed to put two communications satellites into orbit. Latest reports suggest a broken fuel pipe was the cause.

Medvedev pointed to a whole array of space sector-related failures that Russia has suffered in the past couple of years. “This could not be tolerated anymore,” he said, adding that “Russia’s space sector is losing authority and billions of roubles. I don’t know the reason for the loss of our satellites – whether it is the upper stage, mechanical damage, elementary negligence or everything together – but we cannot stand this any longer,” Medvedev said.

International Launch Services (ILS), which was not involved in this mission, will now have to slip many of its planned launches while it awaits Russia’s report on what went wrong with the Briz-M upper stage of the launch rocket.

ILS has flights booked for Intelsat-23, EchoStar-16, Gazprom’s Yamal 402, and Satmex-8 for Mexico.

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