Russia launches two telecoms satellites

A Proton-M carrier rocket with two telecommunications satellites onboard blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Sunday, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos spokesman said.

«The separation of Russia’s Luch-5A spacecraft is scheduled for 00:11 on Monday [20:11 GMT Sunday], while Israel’s Amos-5 satellite will separate at 00.52 Moscow time [20.52 GMT],» the spokesman said.

The Luch-5A satellite will provide communications with the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

Israel’s AMOS-5 will join the satellite grouping of AMOS-2 and AMOS-3 to provide various satellite services to customers in the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa. Equipped with 18 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders, the satellite has a life span of 15 years.

Russia to launch two telecoms satellites on Sunday

A Proton-M carrier rocket with two telecommunications satellites onboard will blast off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Sunday.

“The Proton launch is scheduled for 15:17 Moscow time [11:17 GMT] on Sunday,” a source in Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said.

The separation of Russia’s Luch-5A spacecraft is scheduled for 00:11 on Monday [20:11 GMT Sunday], while Israel’s Amos-5 satellite will separate some 40 minutes later.

The Luch-5A satellite will provide communications with the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

Israel’s AMOS-5 will join the satellite grouping of AMOS-2 and AMOS-3 to provide various satellite services to customers in the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa. Equipped with 18 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders, the satellite has a life span of 15 years.

Russia to spend astronomical sum on new cosmodrome

A new space-shuttle launching site will be built in the Amur Region, costing Russia the astronomical sum of almost $20 billion.

The new cosmodrome, called “Vostochny” (“Eastern”), is expected to become Russia’s number-one cosmodrome, boasting sophisticated facilities, launch pads and other technology.

Vostochny will allow the country to save on leasing the Baikonur cosmodrome from the Kazakhstan government.

In addition, the Kazakh launching site needs renovations as it is not up-to-date enough to carry the entire manned space flight program given up by NASA. Neither is Russia’s own launching site in the far northern city of Arkhangelsk up to the task.

As the new venue will demand a far greater budget than planned, the Russian Space Agency is likely to borrow the much-needed funds. The credit is to be repaid by money from foreign clients who will use Russian satellites.

Russian Mars Probe To Fall To Earth Unless Fix Is Found

WATCH: Russia’s first planned interplanetary mission in more than two decades suffered a malfunction shortly after its launch on November 9.

By RFE/RL

Russia’s ambitious return to deep-space exploration is in limbo as space engineers struggle to salvage an unmanned probe to Mars that is stranded in orbit around the Earth.

The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 9. But once in orbit around the Earth, its propulsion system failed to send the spacecraft on its year-long journey to Mars. It remains stuck in a dangerously low orbit that could eventually send it crashing back to Earth.

​Engineers have been unable to re-establish communication with the spacecraft so far.

The Phobos-Grunt probe is named after Phobos, a moon orbiting Mars. The $170 million spacecraft was built to give insight into the Martian moon’s origin by collecting soil samples from its surface to bring back to Earth for analysis.

The highly complicated mission is the first of its kind in the two decades since the collapse of communism crippled the Soviet space program.

But engineers had complained of unresolved problems in the control and other systems before the launch. It’s not clear whether the current malfunction is with the hardware or software that could be reprogrammed, but space expert Viktor Myasnikov told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that the probe probably failed for more than one reason.

“There were delays in the construction and changes in the project’s concept,” Myasnikov said, “so I’m not at all surprised problems arose in such an extraordinarily complicated mechanism.”

Two-Week Window

Engineers say they have just two weeks to try to solve the problems before the spacecraft falls back to Earth. But with limited battery power restricting mission control from communicating with the probe for more than several hours a day, hopes for success aren’t high.

The Phobos-Grunt is laden with a highly toxic fuel and a small amount of radioactive cobalt, which experts say doesn’t present a danger. They say it’s impossible to tell how much of the spacecraft would survive a re-entry but that the presence of so much fuel means most of the craft would probably burn up before reaching the ground.

A rocket carrying the Phobos-Grunt on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 9.
The spacecraft is also carrying a Chinese satellite meant to study Mars.

Moscow has sent 16 previous missions to Mars but none has completed its mission. The latest was destroyed during a failed launch in 1996.

The Phobos-Grunt probe’s malfunction is also the latest in a recent string of troubles for the Russian space agency, including the failure of a Soyuz rocket in August. Engineers say they’ve fixed that problem.

The U.S. space agency NASA depends on the Soyuz to send astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station, since the space shuttle program was retired earlier this year. The next Soyuz is scheduled to blast off for the space station on November 13 carrying two Russians and an American.

written by Gregory Feifer, with contributions from RFE/RL’s Russian Service

Russia launches Glonass satellites

Russia on Friday launched a Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites from the Baikonur space center after a 24-hour delay due to technical reasons, a spokesman for the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.

This was first launch of a Proton-M rocket with Glonass satellites from Baikonur since the failed launch last year which destroyed three Glonass-Ms.

The launch was conducted at 16:51 Moscow time [12:51 GMT] on Friday. “The separation of the satellites is expected at 22:41 Moscow time [18:41 GMT],” the official said.

The launch was postponed for a day on Thursday after a malfunction of the switching network was detected during a check of the ground-based equipment at the launch pad.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia currently has a total of 27 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 23 of them are operational.

According to Roscosmos, two Glonass satellites are under maintenance, one is on a standby, and one recently launched satellite is being integrated into the grouping.

The complete Glonass grouping needs 24 functioning and 2-3 reserve satellites to operate with global coverage.

Russia set to launch Proton-M carrier rocket with 3 Glonass-M satellites

Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass-M navigation satellites will be launched on Thursday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) said.

“The launch is scheduled for 16:55 Moscow time [12:55 GMT]. The separation of the satellites is slated for 22:45 Moscow time [18:45 GMT],” the spokesman said.

By the end of the month Russia plans to put another Glonass-M satellite into orbit. It will be delivered by a Soyuz 2.1b launch vehicle from Russia’s Plesetsk space center.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia currently has a total of 28 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 20 of them are operational.

According to the Russian Federal Space Agency, five Glonass satellites are under maintenance, one is on a standby, and two recently launched satellites are being integrated into the grouping.

The complete Glonass grouping needs 24 functioning and 2-3 reserve satellites to operate with global coverage.

 

Russia Launches First Space Flight Since Crash

Russia has launched its first unmanned space flight to supply the International Space Station since a crash in August left a half-sized, three-member crew stranded there.

The Progress freighter took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on schedule.

The spacecraft is carrying almost 3 tons of food, fuel, and supplies including oxygen, clothes, and iPads.

It is expected to dock at the station on November 2.

All Russian space flights were suspended after the Progress failure in August. Since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttles this summer, only Russian rockets are capable of reaching the station.

compiled from Reuters reports

Kazakhstan lifts ban on launches of Russian ballistic missiles

Kazakhstan has lifted a moratorium on test launches of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) from the Baikonur space center, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin said.

 

The ban was imposed in 2009 in line with the Kazakh government’s plans to make Baikonur a purely commercial space launch facility.

 

“Now that the ban has been lifted we will [test] launch an ICBM [from Baikonur] in November,” Popovkin told Russian lawmakers on Friday.

 

Baikonur, built in Kazakhstan in the 1950s, is the main launch facility for the current generation of Russian rockets and was leased by Russia from Kazakhstan under an agreement signed in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia pays an estimated annual fee of $115 million for the use of the space center, which currently has the world’s busiest launch schedule.

 

The Russian-Kazakh agreement, which was signed in Astana on January 9, 2004, extends Russia’s use of facilities at the Baikonur space center until 2050.

 

In addition to space launches, Russia frequently used Baikonur facilities to test performance characteristics and service life of its ballistic missiles.

 

The last launch prior to the moratorium was carried out in October 2008 and involved an RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) ICBM with a range exceeding 9,600 km (6,000 miles).

 

Russia set for launch of Proton-M carrier rocket with Mexican satellite

Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket with a Mexican telecommunications satellite, QuetzSat-1, will be launched on Thursday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) said.

“The launch of the Proton-M carrier rocket with QuetzSat-1 satellite has been scheduled for Thursday at 22:32 Moscow time [18:32 GMT]. The separation of the satellite from the carrier rocket has been slated for Friday at 7:45 Moscow time [3:45 GMT],” the spokesman said.

This will be a second launch of Proton-M carrier rockets equipped with Briz-M boosters, following a recent string of launch failures in the Russian aerospace industry.

On August 18, a Russian Proton-M rocket lost an Express-AM4 satellite that was designed to provide digital television and secure government communications for Siberia and the Far East.

One week after the Express-AM4 went off course, a Soyuz-U booster malfunctioned, preventing a Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft from reaching orbit and a link-up with the International Space Station (ISS).