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article imageRussian space agency has two rocket 'glitches' in same day

By Karen Graham     May 16, 2015 in Science
Russia's Roscosmos space agency has been having a "very bad day." The latest events include a rocket attached to the International Space Station that malfunctioned, and the loss of a satellite in a failed launch, both occurring within hours of each other.
Saturday, the "very bad day" started with a glitch in trying to maneuver a Progress spaceship attached to the International Space Station (ISS). In attempting to adjust the orbit of the ISS to a higher altitude, the engine failed to ignite.
Roscosmos says the agency is looking into what caused the engine not to ignite, but the space station's crew was never in any danger. But this seemingly minor problem was just the beginning for the space agency because a few hours later, another mishap occurred.
While attempting to launch a Proton-M rocket carrying a Mexican communications satellite into orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the rocket burned up just minutes after launch, destroying the satellite. Roscosmos issued a brief statement early on Saturday, saying the launch had suffered a problem.
"An emergency situation took place when the Proton-M rocket launched with a MexSat-1 satellite. The reasons are being identified," the agency said.
According to Phys.org, an unnamed source with the space agency told the RIA Novosti state news agency, "The Mexican satellite is lost. Launches of rockets of the Proton type will be grounded until the reason is identified."
The Proton-M is the "workhorse" of the Russian space agency, and Roscosmos has the reputation for a high number of rocket launches every year, most of them being successful. CNN quoted Roscosmos as saying an "emergency situation" occurred during the boost stage. "Preliminary data indicate that the third stage and the Mexican satellite may fall in the Chita region of Eastern Siberia. "The emergencies ministry has been notified," said the space agency in a statement.
The launch of the communications satellite took place at 8:47 am, Moscow time. The Proton-M rocket lost communication with ground control about one minute before the satellite was to separate from the third stage. The space agency is saying the third stage rocket engine accidentally switched off.
Russia earns millions of dollars from launching communication satellites from Western and Asian countries.
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