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MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) – The first launch of a Russian Proton carrier rocket after an accident in July has been postponed indefinitely due to a glitch in its first stage, International Launch Services Inc. (ILS) said Thursday.
“The launch of a Proton rocket carrying Astra 2E telecoms satellite was postponed today due to technical problems with the rocket. The new launch date will be determined later,” ILS, which exclusively operates Proton launches, said in a statement.
The company said experts from Russia’s Khrunichev space and production center, the manufacturer of Proton rockets, had discovered a glitch in the first stage prompting an additional checkup of the rocket at an assembly-and-testing facility at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.
ILS had earlier scheduled the launch for September 17, while a source in the Russian space industry told RIA Novosti on Thursday that it could be postponed at least until September 30.
The suspension of Proton launches was ordered in July after a Proton-M rocket carrying three satellites for the Glonass positioning system, Russia’s answer to the GPS, crashed in a ball of flames, seconds after blasting off from Baikonur.
The reason for the accident was that three sensors in the rocket had been installed upside down, a commission appointed to investigate the incident has concluded.
The incident was the latest in a series of setbacks for Russia’s space program, which has been blighted by the loss of rockets and satellites, as well as a large corruption scandal around the Glonass program.
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