BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Nov. 26, 2002 – International Launch Services regrets the failure of today's mission to put the ASTRA 1K satellite into proper orbit for SES-ASTRA.
The Proton K rocket, built by Khrunichev, lifted off on time at 4:04 a.m. today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (6:04 p.m. Monday EST, 2304 Monday GMT). All three stages of the Proton vehicle performed normally. The Block DM upper stage, built by RSC Energia, performed its first burn as planned and reached a circular parking orbit of 175.5 km (109 miles). Preliminary flight information indicates that the second burn of the Block DM upper stage did not occur as planned, and the ASTRA 1K satellite was separated into the parking orbit.
"We extend our sincerest condolences to SES-ASTRA and SES-GLOBAL for the apparent failure of the Block DM to place the ASTRA 1K satellite into the proper orbit," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "We have a long history of success with the SES-GLOBAL family of companies – SES was the first commercial customer on Proton. We have several missions next year with SES companies, and we are committed to providing timely, reliable service."
The Proton K vehicle has flown 24 other missions for ILS since 1996, all with the Block DM upper stage. A mission failure in December 1997 also involved the Block DM. The Proton family – including the upgraded Proton M with the Khrunichev-built Breeze M upper stage – has flown 26 consecutive successful missions since February 2000.
ILS' next scheduled Proton mission employs the Proton M with the Breeze M upper stage. The Breeze M has flown successfully eight times in various configurations.
A Russian State Commission is being formed to determine the reasons for the anomaly. ILS will provide details as soon as definitive information is available for release. A copy of the official statement from Khrunichev will also be made available upon translation. In parallel with the State Commission, ILS will form its own Failure Review Oversight Board to review reasons for the anomaly and define a corrective action plan.
"ILS will continue business as usual with its Lockheed Martin-built Atlas family of launch vehicles," Albrecht said. "We will work diligently with our partners to return the Block DM to flight as soon as possible for its few remaining missions on the ILS manifest."
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) in the United States, with Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS provides launch services on the Proton and the Atlas vehicles to customers worldwide.
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