A Proton-K with a Briz-M carrying a Raduga communications satellite intended for geostationary orbit to serve the Russian military was lost on 5 July 1999.115>116 At T + 280 seconds, two minutes into the second stage's burn, telemetry indicated a significant rise in temperature in the combustion chamber of one of the engines, and at T + 330 seconds radar tracking noted a trajectory deviation.11^118 After the debris fell on a village 1,000 kilometres downrange, the Kazakhs banned Proton launches pending the investigation. This concluded that defective welding of the seam holding a cover in place on an engine turbine had failed, causing flow changes, and allowing a particle of aluminium to ignite in engine number three, which exploded.119 It was also speculated that the incident may have been "exacerbated by the presence of microparticles introduced during the fuelling process''. It had been the first launch from Area 81 at Baikonur, a pad that had been refurbished for the Proton, and had been delayed by problems in loading the propellants, so the contamination theory seemed likely.120 The Briz-M stage, making its debut, never got the chance to fire. A Proton-K lifted off with two Yamal satellites on 6 September, marking the lifting of the ban on launches. Although Protons had deployed multiple Iridium and GLONASS satellites into low and medium orbits, this was the first time that one carried a pair of geostationary satellites.121 Loral had joined with Energiya, Gasprom (the Russian natural gas production company), and Gascom (its communications subsidiary) to develop, launch and operate satellites by mounting a Loral communications system on an Energiya multi-purpose bus for the 300,000 petroleum workers in the remote sites of Siberia.122 This was the first type of communications satellite to be built by Energiya for a decade. Unfortunately, one of the satellites suffered an electrical fault that prevented it deploying its solar panels.12V24 On 26 September an ILS Proton-K deployed LMI-1, the first Lockheed Martin-Intersputnik satellite, which was to provide communications for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.125,126,12?
A Proton-K was lost on 27 October 1999 when the second stage shut down at T + 222 seconds, some 90 seconds into its 4-minute burn. This was a replay of the 5 July failure, except that this time the debris did not cause much damage. The payload, Express A1, was to have replaced an old Gorizont satellite in order to update Russia's Intersputnik communications network.128,n9 Although neither loss was an ILS mission, the Proton was grounded since this was the second failure in only four launches. The investigation concluded that in both cases a turbopump had caught fire and exploded due to metallic or mineral contaminants.130,131,m An engine test on 5 November demonstrated ignition in the turbine exhaust duct. Examination of the engine found metallic and non-metallic contaminants in the internal chambers, including particles of sand. A piece of asbestos fabric found near a valve head came from the fuel line downstream of the engine starter valve, and hence must have been introduced during manufacture. It turned out that all of the failed engines were from a batch made in 1993 by the Voronezh Mechanical Engine Plant, which had resumed operations after nine months of inactivity without recertifying its tools for production.133 Seven second stages in stock that also contained such engines were stripped and rebuilt. As it had been planned to
An artist's impression of a satellite in the Ekran-M series.
introduce the 'phase 2' upgrades to the engines of the second and third stages in 2000, it was decided to bring forward these changes, which included fitting screens in the oxidiser line and using more nickel alloys that would be less likely to catch fire if contaminated.134
While Khrunichev took solace from the fact that, excluding these two failures, there had been only one Proton loss in the past decade (during which 97 vehicles had lofted 142 satellites), the grounding was bad news for ILS because the premature shutdown of the RL-10 engine in the
- upper stage of Boeing's Delta III on 4
May 1999 had also grounded the Atlas. The Proton-K resumed flying on 12 February 2000 with an ILS launch that deployed Garuda 1 for the Asia Cellular Satellite Company. At 4.5 tonnes, this was the largest commercial satellite yet to be car-ried.135,136,137 On station, the Lock_ heed Martin A2100 bus unfurled a pair of 12-metre-diameter umbrella An artist's impression of the Garuda 1 satellite. , , , , ,, TT
Corporation to provide regional coverage for 10,000 simultaneous L-Band and C-Band telephone calls, to do single-handedly from geostationary orbit what Iridium and GlobalStar required constellations of satellites at lower altitudes to do. Unfortunately, in September 2000 a problem denied the satellite one of the antennas, restricting its mobile communications service.138,139,14° After being launched on 12 March 2000, Express A2 took the slot assigned to its predecessor in order to relieve the ageing Gorizont 12 of the Stasionar network.141 The insurance claim funded the construction of Express A1R as a replacement for the lost satellite.142 These satellites were built by Prikladnoy Mekhaniki of Krasnoyarsk employing C-Band and Ku-Band systems supplied by Alcatel of France, and were for the Russian Satellite Communications Company.143,144,145 The Briz-M stage was successfully tested on a Proton-K on 6 June.146 With the upgraded engines certified, the Zvezda 'service module' for the International Space Station was finally launched on 12 July. On its maiden launch on 7 April 2001, the Proton-M put the 2-tonne Ekran-M 24 satellite into geostationary orbit.14V48 This was the final member of the 1970s-era series, each of which provided a single television channel.
When the Block-DM stage of a Proton-K stranded Astra 1K in a low orbit on 26 November 2002, ILS offered its Proton clients a transfer either to the Proton-M (which did not use the Block-DM) or to the
An artist's impression of a satellite in the Ekran-M series.
new Atlas V.149 The investigation found that the anomaly occurred at the start of the second burn (as did three other failures of this stage since 1996, when ILS began Proton operations). Although it was not possible to pinpoint the fault, there was an excess of fuel in the engine when it was reignited, producing such a high temperature that the engine was destroyed.150 The fuel build-up was attributed to ''stray particles'' that clogged the engine An artist's impression of a satellite in components, and the remedy was to improve the Nimiq series. the preparation of the propellants. According to the Moscow Times, the ILS venture came
''close to collapse'' after this incident because (it argued) the commercial launcher market was dwindling, and because the Proton was in competition with the Atlas V. And indeed, whereas ILS had launched Nimiq 1 (a high-powered DBS satellite for Telesat Canada) on a Proton-K in 1999, it earmarked Nimiq 2 for the Atlas V.151 But with the Atlas V falling behind schedule, ILS had to reassign this satellite to the Proton-M, and it was successfully deployed by the Briz-M on the inaugural commercial flight on 30 December 2002.152 In early 2003, as part of a restructuring effort, Intelsat cancelled its 10-01 satellite, which was to have ridden a Proton-M, but reassigned 10-02 from Sea Launch to ILS as compensation.153 The Proton-M proved itself again when on 16 March 2004 it deployed Eutelsat W3A, an Astrium Eurostar E3000 bus that, at 4.2 tonnes, was the most complex of Eutelsat's satellites to date.154,155,156
In 1986 Japan introduced its H-1 launch vehicle, which was a license-built version of the McDonnell Douglas 1000 series Delta augmented by nine Castor II strap-ons and a second stage powered by the cyrogenic LE-5 engine built by Mitsubishi.157 After nine successful flights, the H-1 was superseded by the H-2, which had an indigenous first stage with the LE-7 cryogenic engine and a second stage using the uprated LE-5A.158 The debut of the H-2 on 1 February 1994 from the Tanegashima Space Centre on an island south of Kyushu, marked Japan's first step towards assuring independent access to space. On 28 August 1994 the second H-2 inserted ETS 6 into geosynchronous transfer orbit but the satellite's liquid-propellant apogee rocket failed.159,16° On 18 March 1995 the third vehicle first dropped off the Space Flyer Unit (a package of microgravity experiments to be retrieved by the NASA Shuttle) in low parking orbit and then put the Hughes-built GMS 5 meteorological satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.161,1ffl There was then a prolonged hiatus, awaiting the delivery of the next payload, the first Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS).163 This was launched on 17 August 1996 but fell silent on 30 June 1997. The investigation concluded that the malfunction was triggered by the breakdown of a soldered part at the base of the solar panel.164 This prompted the postponement of the Communications and Broadcasting Engineering Test Satellite (COMETS), set for launch later in 1997, since it had systems in common with the lost satellite.165 Because COMETS was to function as a geostationary relay for experiments on other satellites, these also had to be delayed.166 In the event, when COMETS was launched on 21 February 1998, the second firing of the LE-5A engine was cut short and the satellite was stranded in a low orbit.167 The investigation concluded that the nozzle had suffered a burn-through.168 Nevertheless, 20 per cent of the experiments were able to be undertaken.169
Was this article helpful?