The on-off launch plans of the Russian giant Proton rocket system is back ‘on’ for a September 30th launch, lifting SES’ Astra 2E satellite into orbit.
The Proton system suffered a catastrophic failure on July 2nd and a high-level investigation into why the rocket failed led to top Russian officials being fired when it was discovered that key attitude sensors had been installed upside-down.
The plan is now to launch as many as 5 Protons between now and year-end including a much –delayed satellite for the Sirius-XM pay-radio operator, and possibly an Inmarsat satellite if all goes to plan.
A statement from International Launch Services, the commercial operators of the Proton system, said: “The Astra 2E mission team is preparing for the launch on September 30th. While ILS and Khrunichev did address a technical issue during this delay, the primary purpose of the delay was to accommodate a joint review by the Russian and Kazakhstan government to address environmental and safety concerns. We agree that undertaking this review is a prudent precautionary measure. While this review will have a short delay impact to the Astra 2E and Sirius FM6 missions, it will not impact the number of Proton missions we anticipated launching before year end 2013.”