SAN DIEGO, Feb. 21, 1996 – On 19 February 1996, at 11:19 a.m. Moscow time, a Proton rocket launched the “Raduga” Russian communication satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Preliminary indications from the mission indicated that the first three stages of the Proton and the first burn on the Block DM upper stage were nominal. However, after ground controllers received indications of a problem with the second burn of the upper stage, they began an analysis of the telemetry to determine the nature of the anomaly.
We are receiving timely and thorough updates from our Russian partners on the continuing investigation. They have confirmed that the Raduga satellite did separate from the fourth stage but did not reach its final geosynchronous orbit. The failure analysis teams have been formed and are concentrating on events surrounding the second ignition of the fourth stage, but at this time they have drawn no specific conclusions. Once their analysis is concluded, the findings will be presented to a Russian government commission and then to International Launch Services.
It is too early to determine whether there will be an impact on the launch date of the first commercial Proton with the Astra 1F satellite, presently scheduled for no earlier than March 28. We will provide additional information on the failure analysis as details are forthcoming and updates to the launch schedule as soon as we have them.