Eutelsat 9B, GLONASS M-51 launches delayed
Two Russian rocket launches from the Baikonur and Plesetsk Cosmodromes located in Kazakhstan and Russia respectively have been pushed back. The dual-delays mark an inauspicious start for the Russian 2016 launch manifest and highlight deep issues within the nation’s space efforts – which was rocked by accidents, scandals, and restructuring during 2015.
The first of these delays, that of a Proton-M rocket with the Eutelsat 9B satellite, was supposed to be sent skyward on Jan. 25 – it has been pushed back three days and will now launch no-earlier-than Jan. 28. This is according to the Facebook Roscomos Fans Page and the Russian News Service TASS.
The launch is being carried out by International Launch Services (ILS); staff located at the Khrunichev Centre (who build the Proton-M as well as its Breeze-M upper stage) wanted more time to get the rocket and its upper stage ready for flight.
Since 2010, seven missions that the Proton-M was tasked with getting underway ended in either total or partial failures (6 and 1 respectively).
Meanwhile, the GLONASS M-51 mission, which had been scheduled to be sent aloft from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome located in Russia sometime late this month, has been pushed back to no-earlier-than Feb. 4 at 20:53 GMT. The mission had also been set to launch atop a Soyuz-2.1b atop a Fregat upper stage on Dec. 29, 2015.
The GLONASS system is Russia’s answer to the United States’ Global Positioning System in providing navigation services. In July of 2013, a trio of GLONASS spacecraft were lost when another Proton-M rocket cartwheeled out of control before slamming into the ground.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.