Again a Russian military communications satellite has crash-landed in Siberia after failing to reach its planned orbit. The mishap was due to a malfunction in the rocket’s third stage.
According to the flight program, the satellite was expected to establish contact with Russian ground stations at 18:28 Moscow Time. However during the firing of the launch vehicle’s third stage, 421 seconds after the liftoff, an emergency command shut down the engine industry experts say.
Everything looked normal until the 425th second in flight, when the signal from Fregat suddenly weakened. Available telemetry showed that just in five seconds, Fregat’s gyroscopic sensors exceeded maximum allowable deviation of 40 degrees from its prescribed attitude, indicating tumbling of the vehicle, likely resulting from an onboard explosion.
The Meridian-5 satellite was carried to orbit by a Soyuz-2.1B rocket launched from Plesetsk spaceport in the Arkhangelsk region at 1208 GMT on Friday.
The satellite was designed to provide communication between ships, planes and coastal stations on the ground.
According to preliminary data, the satellite fell to the south of the city of Novosibirsk.
One of the titanium fragments of the satellite around one meter in diameter has reportedly hit a house in Vagaytsevo village. The piece made a hole in the roof but injured nobody, Lifenews online tabloid reports.
Meridian is a new generation of military satellites designed to replace Molniya-3, Molniya-1 and Parus systems. The system will provide communication between vessels, aircraft, and coastal stations along the Northern Sea Route, as well as satellite services in circumpolar areas of Siberia and the Far East.
The first satellite of the series was put into orbit on December 24, 2006, and the fourth was positioned on May 4, 2011.
The botched operation means the launch of six Globalstar-2 spacecraft from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Soyuz-2.1A rockets could be now delayed.”
A cargo craft bearing crucial supplies for the International Space Station broke up in the atmosphere in August and in November, Russia lost contact with its unmanned Phobos-Grunt spacecraft shortly after it blasted off on a mission to bring back rock and soil samples from Mars. Friday’s failed launch was the sixth in the past year.