February 12, 2013 - The International Launch Servies (ILS) Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) concluded its review on February 7, concurring on the most probable root cause and the associated corrective action plan of the December 8, 2012 anomaly of the Yamal 402 Proton launch. The FROB analyzed the findings and recommendations of the Russian working group, which included participation from experts from TsNIIMash (Central Scientific Research Institute of Machine Building), M.V. Keldysh Research Center and Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center (Khrunichev).
The members of the FROB agreed with the findings of the Russian investigation that the most probable root cause of the failure was due to a combination of adverse conditions which affected the operation of the Breeze M main engine during the startup of the 3rd burn causing damage to a bearing on the oxidizer side of the turbo pump. This ultimately resulted in the failure of the bearing during the 4th burn and caused the 4th burn of the Breeze M to end about four minutes early, with subsequent separation of the spacecraft. The spacecraft, built by Thales Alenia Space for Russian satellite operator, Gazprom Space Systems, was successfully maneuvered to its orbital position and was declared fully operational on January 8, 2013 after completing its on orbit tests.
“My sincere appreciation goes out to our customers, insurance underwriters and independent subject matter experts for their thorough and diligent participation in the ILS FROB process. We thank our customers for their support as ILS Proton proceeds towards return to flight,” said ILS Vice President of Programs and Operations, John Palmé.
The ILS Proton return-to-flight mission will be the Satmex 8 satellite for Satélites Mexicanos, S.A. de C.V. (Satmex) next month. Scheduling of this mission and of the remainder of the ILS Proton near term manifest for 2013 is currently being determined.