A catastrophic rocket failure just before Christmas – although unrelated – and a technical hitch has forced Russia’s Krunichev State Research & Production Centre to postpone severely the planned December 27 launch of SES-4 by ILS. Krunichev and Russia’s Roskosmos have not elaborated on the reasons for the delay, but local sources suggest that defects in the Proton/Breeze-M rocket’s booster control units may be to blame, and are to be replaced.
ILS in a statement cited technical reasons associated with the avionics system of the launch vehicle’s Breeze M upper stage. The additional time is needed due to the required destacking and replacement of the affected avionics unit.
SES-4 is a Space/Systems Loral satellite for SES planned for deployment to an Atlantic Ocean orbital slot. The delay is expected to last for about 25 days.
The rocket failure occurred on an unrelated Soyuz-2 rocket that failed to launch correctly from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. It was the 5th failed space mission for Russia during 2011. “This area of the space industry is in sort of a crisis,” Russian space agency chief Vladimir Popovin acknowledged during a press conference on Friday, December 23.