A commission formed by the Russian authorities is analyzing telemetry data and investigating the cause of a malfunction that occurred during Friday's launch of the unmanned Proton-M rocket with the Express-AM4R communications satellite, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said in a press release posted on its website.
"An emergency situation occurred during the operations of the third stage of the carrier rocket as it attempted to launch the satellite into orbit," it said.
Russia carried out 32 space launches in 2013 out of a total of 82 performed by all countries. One of the Russian launches ended up in a crash, and one more was partially successful.
Out of 29 space launches conducted by Russia in 2012, one ended in failure, and one more was partially successful. Out of 35 space launches carried out by Russia in 2011, five ended in failure.
The large number of accidents in the space rocket industry in 2011 resulted in Anatoly Perminov being replaced by Vladimir Popovkin at the post of Roscosmos director. The next time the Roscosmos administration was reshuffled was after the loss of three Glonass-M navigation satellites when the Proton-M rocket carrying them crashed at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2013. Oleg Ostapenko, Russia's former deputy defense minister and Aerospace Defense Forces commander, was appointed as Roscosmos chief instead of Popovkin.
Furthermore, the Russian authorities ordered a drastic overhaul of the country's space rocket industry by establishing a United Space Rocket Corporation (USRC), which should incorporate all leading Russian space rocket companies. Former head of the Russian automaker Avtovaz (MOEX: AVAZ) Igor Komarov was appointed as USRC director. The process of forming this corporation is underway today, and functions and responsibilities in the space rocket industry are being distributed between the corporation and Roscosmos.
On July 2, 2013, a Proton-M LV took off from Baikonur with three Glonass-M satellites but almost immediately after takeoff sharply departed from the planned flight trajectory, fell apart in midair and exploded.
It had some 600 tonnes of heptyl, amyl and kerosene aboard. The accident commission concluded that the improper installation of speed sensors was the cause of the accident. Officials of the Khrunichev Space Center, which built the rocket, were fiercely reprimanded following the accident.
There were 31 launches of Russian-made launch vehicles in 2010 (one failure), 33 in 2009 (one failure), 33 in 2008 (one failure), 27 in 2007 (two failures), 30 in 2006 (two failures), 31 in 2005 (three failures), 26 in 2004 (one failure), 24 in 2003 (all successful), 25 in 2002 (two failures), 25 in 2001 (all successful), and 38 in 2000 (four failures).
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