Launch of Russia satellite goes awry - official

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iol sciteh dec 10 Proton-M AP File photo: The satellite had been launched by a Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1313 GMT Saturday.

Moscow - Russia failed to put a communications satellite into designated orbit on Sunday, in the latest setback for the once-pioneering space industry, officials said.

“On December 9, during the placing of Yamal-402 satellite vehicle into designated orbit, the separation of the satellite vehicle occurred four minutes ahead of schedule,” Russia's Roskosmos state space agency said in a statement.

The space agency added it had taken control of the satellite and was looking to fix the problem.

The satellite had been launched by a Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1313 GMT Saturday.

“The situation is unpleasant but not catastrophic,” a source in the space industry told the Interfax news agency, adding the satellite could still reach the designated orbit with the help of its own engines.

However that operation would shorten the satellite's life cycle in space, the source was quoted as saying.

Interfax added that the satellite may need three days to correct its orbit.

The Yamal-402 satellite was made for Gazprom Space Systems, a space and telecommunication arm of natural gas giant Gazrpom, to provide communications for Russia, Western and Central Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Russia has recently suffered a string of failed satellite launches and the loss of an unmanned supply ship to the ISS, but the manned missions have been flawless. - Sapa-AFP

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