MOSCOW, Dec. 25, 1997 – The Proton-K launch vehicle manufactured by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center was launched on December 25th from Launch Pad 23, Area 91, of the Baikonur Cosmodrome by launch teams of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense. 589 seconds after liftoff, the rocket injected the AsiaSat 3 telecommunications satellite in the support orbit.

It was subsequently planned to transfer the spacecraft to the geotransfer orbit (GTO) using the Block DM 3 upper stage booster manufactured by the Energia Rocket & Space Corporation. The first burn of the Block DM engine was performed nominally, and the spacecraft was transferred to GTO. Six hours 18 minutes and 42 seconds later the second burn of the Block DM engine was performed. The duration of such second burn was expected to be 110 seconds. However, after being operational for approximately one second, the engine failed, and the satellite did not reach the designed orbit. Telemetry data indicates that the spacecraft was placed in an orbit of 36,008 km x 203 km with an inclination of 51.37 degrees.

A commission of inquiry is currently being set up to examine the telemetry data and identify the causes of the launch failure.

Note: The spacecraft team indicated that the satellite has been acquired and is operational but the amount of fuel onboard is not sufficient to raise it to the correct orbit. The satellite is stable and under control.

The preceding release is the English translation of the official statement from Khrunichev
State Research and Production Space Center concerning the Proton launch failure
early this morning.

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