A Proton-M rocket that failed to launch 3 GPS satellites on December 5 could have been too heavy, say local investigators. The rocket crashed into the Pacific Ocean destroying its important cargo, and forcing Russian officials to suspend all Proton launches while they determine what went wrong.
Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that one theory that the rocket’s DM-03 upper stage was carrying one tonne of fuel more than was necessary. This had the effect of slowing the rocket down, by about 100 metres per second, and thus insufficient to reach its target transfer orbit.
The Board of Investigation has yet to report on its examination of the disaster, but the delay could impact the launch of Eutelsat’s important Ka-Sat craft scheduled for December 20.