Proton rocket fails during launch of JCSAT-11 satellite

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Proton rocket
A Proton rocket

A Proton rocket which was intended to launch the JCSAT-11 satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit lifted off and successfully completed its first stage burn, but the second stage failed leading to loss of the rocket and satellite.

The launch vehicle was a Proton M booster with a Breeze M upper stage. More than 300 Proton rockets have been launched, all from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Following the launch failure, Kazakhstan suspended the launch of Proton rockets from Baikonur, Interfax news agency reported.

JSAT Corporation immediately placed an order with Lockheed Martin, the satellite manufacturer, for an identical replacement satellite based on the A2100AX design.

Failure investigation

A Russian State Commission will be responsible for determining the cause of the failure. In addition, a Failure Review Oversight Board will review the commission's final report and corrective action plan in accord with U.S. and Russian government export control regulations, International Launch Services, the launch service provider, said.

Environmental concern

The propellants used by the rocket are highly toxic. Possible environmental contamination at the crash site is a particular concern, an insurance company spokesman said. The rocket came down in the central Kazakh steppe, 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan, and a team has been sent there to determine the extent of any pollution.