Sunday, 25 December 2011

Russian communications satellite falls after launch

A Russian communications satellite fell to the ground on Friday soon after it was launched, adding to a string of disasters that have haunted the country's space industry, Russian news agencies reported on Friday, quoting military sources.

The agencies said the Meridian satellite, which can have both military and civilian use, did not reach its orbit and fell to the ground near the city of Tobolsk in Siberia, about 2,300 km from Moscow.

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The sources blamed the accident on the carrier rocket's failure. A source in the space industry told Interfax news agency the Meridian failure could delay the launch of Progress cargo craft, due in January.

Several incidents have marred the celebration of the 50 years since Yuri Gagarin's pioneering flight to space. A cargo craft taking supplies to astronauts aboard the International Space Station broke up in the atmosphere in August.

Three Glonass navigation system satellites launched in December last year veered off course and crashed into the Pacific Ocean, costing Moscow around $160 million and setting back the program to develop a rival to U.S. GPS.

Russia is also likely to have lost the $165-million Phobos-Grunt probe, which is stuck in orbit and may drop to Earth after it failed to set a course toward Mars's moon last month.

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.


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