August 19, 2011 – On 18 August, at 3:25 a.m., a Proton Breeze M vehicle carrying the Express-AM4 satellite launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Proton M launch vehicle performed nominally, and the ascent unit including the Breeze M upper stage and the spacecraft separated at the appropriate time. Contact with the Breeze M and spacecraft was lost after the fourth burn of the Breeze M upper stage. Roscosmos specialists were able to locate the Breeze M Upper Stage. Efforts are now underway to establish contact with the Express-AM4 spacecraft.
A Russian State Commission of inquiry has been established and has begun the process of determining the reasons for the anomaly. ILS will release details when data become available. In parallel with the State Commission, ILS will form its own Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB). The FROB will review the commission’s final report and corrective action plan, in accordance with U.S. and Russian government export control regulations.
ILS remains committed to providing reliable, timely launch services for all its customers. To this end, ILS will work diligently with its partner Khrunichev to return Proton to flight as soon as possible.
Further updates will be provided on the investigation as they become available.