Astra 2G – the third new UK TV satellite – launch may be delayed.
Although no launch date has been set, apart from “Q2 2014”, this may be delayed.
A Russian Proton-M rocket, which is used to launch satellites, crashed on Friday, about nine minutes after lift-off.
The crash was likely caused by a failure in one of the third stage’s steering engines, reported Oleg Ostapenko, the head of the Russian national space agency Roscosmos.
“The exact cause is hard to establish immediately, we will be studying the telemetry. Preliminary information points to an emergency pressure drop in a steering engine of the third stage of the rocket,” he said.
Fragments of the rocket and its cargo have apparently burned in the atmosphere, he added, which means they could not cause any damage on the ground.
The launch went abnormal on the 540th second of the flight, when an emergency engines shutdown kicked in in response to the rocket deviating from its intended trajectory, the Russian Federal Space Agency reported after the crash. The third stage, which is called Briz-M, was approximately 150km above the ground at that moment and had some 40 seconds to go before deploying its payload into the orbit.
It was the second failure for Russia’s workhorse Proton-M rocket in less than a year, and the second time that it had failed to deliver a European satellite intended to provide advanced telecoms and Internet access to remote parts of Russia, after the last one crashed shortly after launch in 2011. The rocket now has a 7% failure rate.
Astra 2Es launch on 2013 was delayed several months after another Proton rocket failure.
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