SAN DIEGO, July 6, 1999 – The following is an English translation of the Khrunichev press release issued following the July 5 Proton launch failure.
A Proton launch vehicle carrying the first Breeze M upper stage, along with a Raduga spacecraft for the Russian Ministry of Defense, failed during launch yesterday. Initial analyses indicate a malfunction of the Proton's second stage. The Breeze M and its payload did not reach orbit. A failure review board has been appointed by the Russian Government.
Lift-off took place at 19 hours 32 minutes Baikonur time (17:32 Moscow time) July 5, from launch pad #24, Area 81, of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. First stage flight was normal, with second stage separation and ignition, as well as payload fairing separation, on time. Telemetry first reported anomalous data at approximately 280 seconds into the flight, with deviations from the planned trajectory appearing on ground tracking systems by 330 seconds. By 390 seconds the launch vehicle was 14 km below its planned trajectory. Ground systems tracked the upper stages and payload to impact. The Proton's third stage, with the Breeze M upper stage and its Raduga spacecraft payload, fell in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, about 1000 km from the launch pad.
This was to have been the first flight of the new Breeze M upper stage, manufactured by Khrunichev Space Center (KhSC). Unfortunately, due to the failure of the Proton launch vehicle, the Breeze M had no chance to fulfill its planned flight objectives.
A State Commission has been formed to determine the reasons for the failure and to define a corrective action plan to prevent the recurrence of such a failure in the future. The commission consists of representatives of the Proton's manufacturer (Khrunichev), its subcontractors, and representatives of the customer (the Russian Ministry of Defense). There will be no launches of the Proton until the commission finishes its work.
A previous failure of the Proton launch vehicle occurred on August 9, 1990, when the main engine of the third stage failed. On May 27, 1993, the Proton once again did not reach parking orbit because of contamination in the fuel, which caused failures in the engines of the second and third stages. In 1996-1997, three mission failures were due to failures of the Block DM upper stage, manufactured by RSC Energia.
In the last 10 years of Proton operations, there have been 95 launches and 140 spacecraft injected into various orbits, including 16 successful commercial launches. Proton's overall reliability (50 flight moving average) is 92%.
Formed in 1995, International Launch Services (ILS) is an international joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS jointly markets commercial launch services on the Russian-built Proton and the Lockheed Martin Astronautics-built Atlas to the worldwide satellite launch market. The company is headquartered in San Diego, Calif., USA.