Spaceflight Insider

With Proton launches on hold, investigation underway, Russia plans to send additional ship to ISS

Proton-M waiting on the pad with MexSat-1, before the launch that ended in failure. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Proton-M waiting on the pad with MexSat-1, before the launch that ended in failure. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Russian Proton-M rocket launches are on hold since the latest failure of this booster that was destroyed on May 16 over East Siberia. On Monday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has asked Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to hold a special meeting with the heads of the federal space agency Roscosmos and the joint probe into the latest loss of the Proton rocket to decide if the launches should go on. Roscosmos has also decided to send additional cargo craft to the International Space Station (ISS) following the loss of the Progress M-27M resupply ship on April 28.

“It has been decided to send three resupply ships to the ISS instead of two before the end of this year, in July, September and November,” a source in the space industry said.

Meanwhile, Rogozin admitted that Russia won’t be able to launch the Proton rocket until the investigation is over.

Russian Federal Space Agency Progress_M-14M NASA photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider

With the apparent loss of the Progress M-27M spacecraft, the failings of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) have come into sharper focus. Photo Credit: NASA

“My request is there should be a meeting with the heads of the probe over its findings,” he added.

He also suggested that Russian space specialists should inform their European and U.S. partners about the investigation results so “everyone understands that we have taken exhaustive steps to restore the reliability of our technology and this is important for Russia to keep its place on the market of space services.”

Medvedev agreed with Rogozin’s suggestion to inform foreign partners about the investigation and about the measures the government was taking to eliminate them in the future to reduce reputational costs.

The head of Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, will lead the panel of inquiry. The general designer of the Angara rocket will be his deputy.

According to preliminary information, a breakdown occurred in a steering engine of the third stage, similar to the Proton accident last year.

GLONASS Bulletin Editor Konstantin Kreidenko said that errors in the production of the Proton-M rocket could be the cause for its fall during its launch last week.

Rogozin also noted that Russia should switch to digital designing in the space rocket industry, gradually giving up Proton boosters and opting for other models, like the Angara rocket.



Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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