A malfunction of the Briz-M upper-stage rocket reportedly caused the failure of a Proton-M rocket launch two weeks ago, Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday.
On August 18, a Russian Proton-M rocket lost the prized Express-AM4 satellite that was designed to provide digital television and secure government communications for Siberia and the Far East.
The satellite was placed in the wrong orbit because of the malfunction of the Briz-M upper-stage rocket, the Roscosmos commission said.
The Briz-M manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center has had five failures over the 12-year history of operation.
The Russian aerospace industry has faced a series of misfortunes over the last nine months. In December, 2010, a Proton-M booster rocket failed to put three Glonass-M satellites into orbit. The launch of the Rokot booster rocket, carrying a military geodesic satellite Geo-IK-2 ended in failure in February.
After the first two mishaps, Roscosmos’s chief, Anatoly Perminov, was forced to resign.
One week after the Express-AM4 went off course, a Soyuz-U booster malfunctioned, preventing the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft from reaching orbit. Its debris landed in Gorny Altai, Russia.