The first Proton-M mission after the May accident has been scheduled for August 23. The launch vehicle is due to put into orbit the British telecom satellite Inmarsat-5F3, a source in the Baikonur spaceport told Interfax on Tuesday.
"The new date for launching the British satellite has been approved. It [the launch] is scheduled for August 23. The spaceport will resume pre-launch preparations shortly," the source said.
It was planned at the start to launch the British satellite on May 29. But the launch was delayed after the failed mission of a Proton-M rocket carrying the Mexican satellite MexSat-1 on May 16. A second Proton-M launch following the accident is scheduled for September 14. The rocket will be carrying the Express-AM8 telecom satellite built on the orders of the Russian Satellite Communications Company. That mission also had to be postponed because of the May contingency.
It was reported earlier that the new schedule of Proton missions would depend on tests of the improved engine of the Proton-M third stage, the failure of which in May 2014 and 2015 resulted in the loss of satellites Express-AM4R and MexSat-1. A Proton-M launch vehicle coupled with a Briz-M booster unit and the Mexican telecom satellite MexSat-1 blasted off from Baikonur on May 16.
At the 498th second of the flight, a minute before the payload could separate from the rocket, a command was received for the emergency shutdown of the engine. This happened above the Transbaikal territory, at an altitude of 161 kilometers. Roscosmos said, "the third stage, the booster unit and the satellite practically burned up in the atmosphere." May 16 was 'a black day' for the Proton-M launch vehicle designed and manufactured by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. On that date in 2014, a Proton-M rocket carrying the Russian telecom satellite Express-AM4R was launched from Baikonur. The mission failed.
Interdepartmental commission chairman Alexander Danilyuk said later that the main theory behind the crash was the destruction of a turbo-pump bearing which disrupted the operation of the third stage's control engine.
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