REUTERS, RIA NOVOSTI, ROSCOSMOS (Russian Federation)
MOSCOW – Russia’s Proton rocket failed to bring two satellites into orbit after the launch late on Monday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.
Although the launch itself was a success (see video below), the rocket -- carrying two multi-million dollar satellites that were to provide Indonesia and Russia with telecom services – lost contact with said satellites before it was able to bring them to their designated orbit.
Preliminary inquiry shows the failure may be due to untimely maneuvers performed by the rocket’s Briz-M booster.
Human error may be behind the mishap, a space expert told RIA Novosti on condition of anonymity; the Russian news agency added that according to a space industry source, the booster had become a potentially hazardous piece of space junk.
Launches of Proton rockets with Briz boosters will most likely be suspended until experts can determine the exact cause of the failure.
Moscow, which carries out some 40 percent of global space launches, is struggling to restore confidence in its space industry after a string of mishaps last year, including the failure of a mission to return samples from the Martian moon Phobos, Reuters reports.