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Unconfirmed sources today are suggesting that Tuesday’s Proton launch of a Russian communications satellite placed the satellite in the wrong orbit.
A report appearing on NASASpaceFlight (NSF) has indicated that while the initial phase of the launch of the Russian Ekspress AM-6 telecommunications satellite might have gone off as planned – the later stages of the mission were less than perfect. NSF’s Chris Bergin reported via Twitter that, although the spacecraft had been placed into the wrong orbit – it should be able to be placed into the correct orbit over time. How much time and what the exact cause as to why the satellite may have been placed into an improper orbit – have yet to emerge. In fact, officials within the Russian space industry have stated that the spacecraft is, in actuality, in the correct orbit.
If these sources are correct it will be a very bad problem for Russia’s aerospace industry, now consolidated into a single giant corporation run by the central government. Proton has had numerous failures in the past three years, all caused by serious quality control problems in Russia’s entire space industry. Another failure here will only add weight to this conclusion.