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Russian-Launched US Satellite Unlikely To Reach Target Orbit

The current failure is the second botched launch of a commercial Proton mission in just over six months. In September 2007, a Proton-M carrying a Japanese communications satellite malfunctioned shortly after the launch and crashed in a deserted region of Kazakhstan.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Mar 18, 2008
A U.S. AMC-14 satellite launched from a space center in Kazakhstan on early Saturday is unlikely to reach the designated orbit from its current position, a Russian space expert said on Monday.

A few minutes after the launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur Space Center, which is leased to Russia and carries out dozens of launches every year, the Breeze M orbit insertion booster failed during its upper stage, putting the satellite into orbit 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) short of its planned altitude of 36,000 kilometers (22,400 miles).

"The altitude of the orbit reached by the satellite after a mishap with the booster is too low for the spacecraft to function properly," a member of a state investigation commission said.

"In addition, fuel supplies on board the satellite and the power of its engines are not enough to raise its orbit another 8,000 kilometers above the Earth to provide effective signal coverage for the designated regions of the United States," he said.

The AMC-14 communications satellite is designed and manufactured by Lockheed-Martin on the basis of the A-2100 platform and has a standard service life of up to 15 years.

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) earlier said that the fate of the satellite would be decided by its owner, SES AMERICOM, a New Jersey-based satellite operator.

The launch was carried out by the Russian-American joint venture International Launch Services (ILS).

ILS, owned by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center, RSC Energia, and U.S. firm Space Transport Inc. provides spacecraft launch services by Proton-M rockets.

Last year was the joint venture's first as an independent company marketing the Proton Breeze M vehicle.

The current failure is the second botched launch of a commercial Proton mission in just over six months. In September 2007, a Proton-M carrying a Japanese communications satellite malfunctioned shortly after the launch and crashed in a deserted region of Kazakhstan.

However, since the September failure, the Proton had successfully completed six missions for the Russian government and commercial customers.

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Paris, France (ESA) Mar 16, 2008
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