Back on December 8th, a Proton rocket carrying a communications satellite for Gazprom failed to deliver the satellite to its correct orbit. The craft was built by Thales Alenia Space. As a result all Proton flights were suspended while an investigation was carried out. An expert review has now concluded that a bearing failed which caused the rocket’s 4th ‘burn’ to be cut short by four minutes.
The Yamal 402 satellite was eventually placed into its correct orbit, but at the cost of much of its on-board propellant which means a much shorter operational life for the craft.
US-based International Launch Services (ILS), which handles the commercial aspects of the Proton launches from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, says the next Proton-M mission will take place in March for the much-needed Satmex-8 satellite for Satmex.