Moscow, August 7 (Interfax-AVN) – The Express-MD2 and Telkom 3 telecommunications satellites are believed to have ended up in an orbit with an apogee of 6,000 kilometers after the Briz-M upper stage malfunctioned, a Russian space rocket sector source told Interfax-AVN on Tuesday.
“The information available indicates that the upper stage’s engine operated for just a few seconds instead of 18 minutes during the third mission maneuver. As a result, it ended up in an orbit with an apogee of 6,000 kilometers, which is located 30,000 kilometers below the designated orbit,” he said.
“Russian earth-based systems continue monitoring the three objects in orbit. They could be the upper stage and the Express-MD2 and Telkom 3 satellites that separated from it,” the source said.
Russia’s Proton-M launch vehicle equipped with a Briz-M upper stage and carrying the Russian Express-MD2 satellite and Indonesia’s Telkom 3 lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:23 p.m. Moscow time on August 6. The launch vehicle operated as planned, and the upper stage was supposed to perform four mission maneuvers to advance the satellites to their designated orbit. An investigation into why the Briz-M failed to perform the third maneuver continues.
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