Proton loss cause identified
August 9, 2013
By Chris Forrester
The official report of the July 2 Proton-M Russian rocket disaster has been identified as incorrectly fitted velocity sensors. Igor Volk, a ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ because of his experience as a cosmonaut, told reporters bluntly on August 8 that the designers and engineers must bear full responsibility for the catastrophe. Either way, the Proton launch programme has been set back by at least 6 weeks and these delays impact ‘western’ launches.
Officially, International Launch Services (ILS), which markets the Proton/Briz-M launch system to ‘western’ satellite operators, will conduct their own failure review board to determine what to do next. Its first meeting is today, August 9, to determine the probable root cause and what corrective actions might be needed prior to returning to flight the Proton rocket and its upper launch stages. This independent board will – hopefully – conclude its findings by this time next week, August 16.
If the ILS enquiry determines that it is safe to proceed with new launches then the next in line for launch is a Sirius pay-radio satellite, followed by an SES satellite.