by Staff Writers
Moscow Voice of Russia) Jul 08, 2013
Alexander Lopatin, a deputy head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) leading a commission investigating the Tuesday crash of a Proton-M launch system, will listen to specialists' reports analyzing the flight telemetry data, a source from Russia's space rocket industry said.
"The heads of the companies cooperating in the manufacturing of the Proton-M rocket and engines and the designers of control systems are also taking part in the meeting," the source said.
Some experts interviewed by journalists suggested earlier that the rocket's crash was likely caused by a malfunction of either the first stage engine or the control system.
Russia is suspending the launches of Proton rockets after an unmanned rocket carrier exploded on takeoff this week, a source on the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan said Thursday.
"The investigation commission that is looking into the causes of the accident on July 2 has made a decision to stop the preparations for the planned Proton rocket launches from Baikonur," the source told Interfax news agency.
The next launch was set for July 20, he said, but the rocket, as well as the Briz-M upper stage rocket and the satellite Astra 2E that was to be carried into space were on Thursday being moved to storage.
"Due to the accident the launches will be pushed back to later dates and will resume only after the commission finishes its work and after its recommendations are put to use," the source added.
Other Proton launches this year were scheduled for the American radio satellite Sirius FM6 on August 14, Russia's Kosmos military satellite on September 5, Russian communications satellite Ekspress AM5 in October and Turkish Turksat 4A in November, he said.
The Proton rocket is Russia's most popular for unmanned commercial launches and analysts have said that Tuesday's accident, in which a Proton-M rocket fell apart mid-air, was a major blow that could lead businessmen to look for alternative carriers.
Proton-M carrier rockets launch suspended until completion of governmental commission investigation
Post-Proton accident security alert over in Baikonur
Theoretically, a cloud of fuel components could have reached it if things had gone bad.
The cloud was small as most of the fuel components burned in mid-air and the cloud dispersed rapidly," a well-informed source at the spaceport told Interfax.
"Restrictions were lifted after that happened but many shops remained closed in the town," he said.
Baikonur services took immediate measures to protect local residents from the hazard. It was unknown at the start how large the cloud was and in which direction it was moving.
Kindergartens and schools were ordered to keep children indoors. Markets and shops were closed. Residents were recommended to stay home, turning off their air conditioners and closing balcony doors and windows.
"The rules were in effect for several hours until the absence of the danger was proven," the source said.
A Proton-M rocket with three Glonass-M satellites took off from the 81st launch pad at the Baikonur Space Center at 6:38 a.m. Moscow time on Tuesday.
Its trajectory changed abruptly after the takeoff and the rocket started falling to pieces in mid-air. The rocket hit the ground near the launch pad and exploded.
The explosion made a crater of about 150-200 meters in diameter, the source said.
Source: Voice of Russia
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