Russian satellites fail to reach orbit

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iol scitech aug 7 Proton-M rocket AP File photo: The Proton-M booster rocket with Express-AM4 satellite is lifted for a blast off at the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Moscow - Two communications satellites were missing from their planned orbit shortly after taking off from the Russian cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, space authorities said early on Tuesday.

The satellites took off on board a Proton-M rocket on Monday, but the Briz-M booster stage and its payload “have not been detected on the transition orbit,” the federal space agency Roscosmos said on its website.

The booster appeared to have fired for only seven seconds rather than the programmed 18 minutes and 5 seconds, it said.

Future launches of Proton rockets were suspended until the cause of the incident was clarified, news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing space command officials.

The Satellit Express MD2 was to improve television broadcasting and communications over the former Soviet states for 10 years.

The Russian-made Telkom-3 was built on commission from Indonesia, and was to provide telecommunications services in that country for the next 15 years.

The satellites were unlikely to reach functional orbits, the report quoted an expert as saying. - Sapa-dpa

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