Russian rocket delay creates problems
January 31, 2012
By Chris Forrester
A planned launch of the already delayed SES-4 satellite on January 29th was scrubbed, with the satellite removed to the safekeeping of the integration facility. Technicians are re-examining the problems on the Russian Proton/Breeze-M rocket assembly, but the launch is delayed “until further notice” according to a press statement.
The problems are dramatically affecting a long waiting list of planned launches from the Russian cosmodrome. The SES-4 satellite is already more than a month delayed, for example. Satellite customers now likely to be affected include pay- radio broadcaster Sirius-XM’s FM-6 (originally set for February 20th), Intelsat-22 (due on March 6th) and YahSat 1B (April 2nd). All are now likely to be forced to slip their launch schedules, and at best anticipated launch dates are now officially “tentative”.
If the technical problems can be fixed speedily it is likely that delays will be minimised, but another 28 day suspension of services will seriously impact business plans.
While all satellite operators anticipate some flexibility to launch schedules, every day that a satellite is delayed means lost revenues. While the Sirius-XM satellite is providing in-orbit back up, the other satellites mentioned are needed on station to provide extra capacity and new services – and revenues for their owners.