Debris from the Proton launch failure yesterday has been found in China.


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Debris from the Proton launch failure yesterday has been found in China.

The vagueness of yesterday’s Russia reports suggested to me the possibility that the rocket might have fallen into another country’s territory, something the Russians would normally not like to advertise. It appears, however, that most of the satellite and rocket has burned up before hitting the ground.

This report clarifies some details about the failure. It was the Proton’s third stage that failed, not the Briz-M stage that has caused failures in the past. This is also the 6th failure of a Proton since December 2010, a poor launch record that strongly indicates serious quality control problems in the manufacture of this rocket.

Update: Inmarsat, one of the Proton rocket’s biggest customers, is considering dumping the Proton for future launches. To do so will be expensive and will likely delay the launch of their next two satellites, both of which were scheduled for launch on a Proton in 2014. Nonetheless, it appears they are considering it.

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