31 Dec 2017 10:01

Roscosmos declares minor decline in number of failed rocket launches

MOSCOW. Dec 31 (Interfax) - The Roscosmos state corporation performed 20 successful rocket launches in the interests of government and private clients in 2017, the corporation said in a statement.

"In 2017, the number of failed rocket launches declined by 0.2% compared to 2016 and by 2.1% compared to 2015. It amounted to 4.8% over the year," the statement said.

Roscosmos performed 20 successful rocket launches for government and private clients from Baikonur, Plesetsk, and the Guiana Space Center in Kourou over the year, the statement said.

Seven launches were accomplished under the International Space Station (ISS) program, including four launches of Soyuz MS manned spaceships and three launches of Progress MS resupply ships.

"In 2017 Russia set a national record of simultaneously launching 73 satellites to three different orbits - a Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle with a Fregat upper stage successfully inserted into orbit the Kanopus-V-IK satellite and the additional payload from Baikonur," Roscosmos said.

For the first time in history, Kanopus-V-IK carried Russian-made hardware receiving Earth images in the visible and infrared spectrum, which made it possible to detect even small wildfires on a wide range of territories.

Yet the launch of a Soyuz-2.1b rocket coupled with a Fregat upper stage and the Meteor-M2-1 satellite conducted from Vostochny on November 28 failed. The launch vehicle accomplished its mission, yet the upper stage had a glitch, which resulted in the loss of the satellite.

Also, problems occurred in December during the launch of Angola's AngoSat telecom satellite. The satellite was put into orbit by a Zenit rocket, which blasted off Baikonur at 10 p.m. on December 26. After eight minutes of the normal flight, the Fregat upper stage separated from the orbit and delivered the satellite to the final orbit at 6:55 a.m. Moscow time on December 27. The satellite stopped transmitting telemetry later on.

The satellite's manufacturer, Energia Corporation, confirmed that contact with the satellite was lost. Specialists kept trying to regain contact with the satellite from the morning of December 27 till the evening of December 28. Contact was finally established with AngoSat, and telemetry showed that all parameters of the satellite's systems were normal.

Energia built the satellite for Angola on a new platform made of Russian component parts. The satellite's mass is 1.647 tonnes.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that all the failed rocket launchers resulted from systemic mistakes in Roscosmos' management.

"These are systemic management mistakes of the state corporation's executives," Rogozin told the channel Rossiya 24 (VGTRK) in an interview.

"We were expecting to have no accidents over years, but one accident occurred late last year, and this year we have had 20 successful launches and one failed mission," Rogozin said.

Rogozin criticized Roscosmos' management for not doing enough to hire younger personnel. Thirty percent of workers are younger than 35 in Rosatom and the defense sector, "but the indicator stands at roughly 18.5% in Roscosmos," he said.

"The hiring of younger personnel has been progressing with difficulty," Rogozin said.

"These are systemic management mistakes of the state corporation's executives," Rogozin said.