MOSCOW - Moscow is losing prestige and money due to botched space projects, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday after Russia junked two satellites in the latest launch failure to dog the once-pioneering industry.
The failure of a workhorse Proton rocket after launch on
Monday caused the multimillion-dollar loss of Indonesia’s
Telkom-3 and Russia’s Express-MD2 satellites, according to
Russia’s space agency.
Russian space agency Roskosmos said an engine failure in the
rocket’s upper stage, called the Briz-M, meant the craft went
into the wrong orbit. A similar problem caused the loss of a
$265 million communications satellite last year.
“I don’t know the reason for the loss of our satellites –
whether it is the upper stage, mechanical damage, elementary
negligence or everything together – but we cannot stand this any
longer,” Medvedev said at a televised government meeting.
“We are losing our authority and billions of roubles.”
Medvedev said he would hold a meeting on the subject next
week and ordered government officials to look into recent
failures. “They must report their recommendations on who to
punish and what to do further.”
Moscow is struggling to restore confidence in its space
industry after a series of mishaps last year, including the
failure of a mission to return samples from the Martian moon
Such failures for Russia, which conducts 40 percent of
global space launches, may undermine its standing in the market,
strengthening competitors such as Europe’s Ariane rocket.
Telkom-3 was the first satellite Jakarta had purchased from
Moscow, built by Russia’s ISS-Reshetnev with communication
equipment made by French-led satellite maker Thales Alenia Space
. Express-MD2 was a small communication satellite, made
for the Russian Satellite Communications Company.