Kazakhstan suspends Proton satellite launches from Baikonur

Kazakhstan on Thursday announced the suspension of satellite launches by Proton rocket from the Baikonur space centre after the failed launch of a Japanese telecommunications satellite, Interfax news agency reported.

Kazakhstan suspends Proton satellite launches from Baikonur

A failed launch of a Proton-M means automatic suspension of such launches from Baikonur until all the circumstances are cleared up. This is laid down by a Russian-Kazakh agreement," Adilbek Bassekeyev, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's special representative at Baikonur, said.

The launch of the satellite JCSat 11 from the Russian cosmodrome at Baikonur failed early Thursday, the Itar-Tass news agency had quoted Khrunichev space centre as announcing.

First reports said a technical failure linked with an engine in the Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the satellite took place a few minutes after the launch at 02:43 am Moscow time (2243 GMT Wednesday).

As a result, the rocket plunged back to earth in a remote region of Kazakhstan, Itar-Tass quoted a spokesman of Russian space agency Roskosmos as saying.

First reports said there were no victims and nobody was hurt.

"A state commission has been set up to inquire into the causes of the malfunction," Khrunichev centre spokesman Alexander Bobrenev was quoted as saying.

JCSat 11, intended to retransmit television broadcasts, was to have covered Japan, the Asia Pacific region and the Hawaii island group.

The JCSat company, one of the Asia Pacific region's leaders in satellite television, already has eight satellites in orbit. JCSat 11 was to have been a reserve.

The Proton M rocket is an updated version of the heavy Proton K, the most reliable rocket in the world over nearly 40 years.

In line with decisions of the Russian government, all commercial launches by Proton rockets are made by the Russian-American joint venture ILS-International Launch Services Inc. which has carried out around 40 since it was set up in 1996.

AFP

Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2007, 11:50
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