Roscosmos Press Release
August 23, 2011 – On 18 August, a Proton M/Breeze M vehicle carrying the Express-AM4 satellite launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
The Proton M lift-off and mission were nominal.
During the mission of the ascent unit including the Breeze M upper stage and the spacecraft an anomaly occurred in the Breeze M control system, and Express-AM4 was injected into an off-design orbit.
Using the facilities of the Outer Space Monitoring System of the Space Forces under the Russian MoD (SKKP) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the parameters of the Express-AM4 orbit were identified as follows: inclination 51.23 degrees, apogee 20294 km, perigee 995 km, circular orbit period 368.39 minutes.
Specialists of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Ministry of Communications and Mass Media (via the Russian Satellite Communications Company) and EADS Astrium mounted joint efforts to acquire the SC in order to activate its onboard systems.
Currently the specialists continue their attempts to reestablish contact with the satellite.
A joint working group has been established to explore possibilities for translating the Express-AM4 into the design orbit and, if the onboard systems respond, subsequently using the satellite for its designated purpose.
The Inter-Agency Commission of inquiry continues to investigate the causes of the off-nominal orbiting of the Express-AM4 satellite by Proton M/Breeze M. A number of possible scenarios are analyzed, the main one being an anomaly in the upper stage control system.
Proton M and Breeze M processing for impending launches is temporarily suspended until the causes of the off-nominal launch of the Express-AM4 satellite are determined.