Russia's 'made-in-China' Proton-M explodes during launch
The upper stage of DM-03 Proton-M, which was installed on the booster rocket for the first time since December 2010, after the loss of three Glonass-M satellites, could not cause the accident at Baikonur space port in the morning of July 2. The incident occurred before the stage was activated. The spaceport will have to reschedule other launches due to the need to clean the area from rocket fuel contamination. However, yet another disaster in Russia's space industry may cause a serious damage to the future of space exploration.
Click here to see the video of the crash
"Orbital block (Block DM-03 with three Glonass-M satellites), when entering low near-Earth orbit, operates in passive mode until it is separated from the launch vehicle, when its second stage is about to complete its work. Afterwards, space vehicles are delivered to desired orbit through two activations of the main engine booster," an official message from Russian Space Corporation Energia said.
"The accident occurred during the first seconds of the launch, while upper stage DM-03 was supposed to get activated during the 585th second," a source in the space industry told ITAR-TASS. He added that "DM-03 upper stage did not have any flight observations in its history, as it was one of the most reliable boosters."
At the crash site of Proton-M, a 200-meter crater was formed.
According to telemetry, during the fourth second of the flight, the rocket started showing pitch displacement. After 17 seconds, engines went off. After that, the rocket began to fall apart in the air. During the 32nd second, it fell to the ground. Main engines were working before the rocket hit the ground, enabling flight control officers to take the space vehicle from the launch pad and avoid damage on the ground. The rocket fell 1.5-2 km from the ground control center, Interfax reports.
Specialists currently determine the extent of contamination on the crash site.
A Proton-M rocket exploded at Baikonur spaceport on Tuesday morning. The satellite was supposed to take three GLONASS satellites into orbit. Pravda.Ru asked expert opinion from writer and journalist Vladimir Gubarev.
"The most recent explosion is very symbolic, because the technological level has been declining, and our parliamentarians and ministries are involved in nonsensical activities, such as the reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This is a response to their initiative. This is a general decline in the scientific and technological level of the country, and it can be clearly seen when doctors or rectors of some secondary institutions become ministers and offer to destroy all our science.
"Imagine a group of officials who do not understand much about their work, but they sit and evaluate the work of the country's largest research institutes. In this sense, the reform, which they now try to venture into science, does not stipulate the destruction of economy as such. It goes about officials taking control of everything. This has already happened in the space industry, and unfortunately, everything that happens in the space industry is the achievement of our officials.
"The number of all types of managers has increased ten times, the number of no-specialists has grown a hundred times. There are very few professionals. The absence of specialists at the Mission Control Center, at various meetings, at the launch site really amazes me. I can only see people who came to talk about something. The current explosion of Proton is the price that we had to pay for commerce.
"Russia staked on commercial space launches. I do not know the details, but I have a feeling that this was a typical commercial launch. Only commerce can lead to this. What upsets me most is that we receive spare parts from abroad, from China. It is clear that they work well for themselves. What is space equipment? It's when only two or three from a hundred devices can fly into space. The rest have to go to other areas."
"Russia is currently unable to create equipment that can work in space for a long time. We buy it from China, where they can not make such equipment either, so we get what we can witness today. We can not make satellites without spare parts from the West or from China. That's what the danger is about. Of course, there will be such accidents.
"The infamous launch of Mars Grunt, an accident on board the Proton rocket, and then suddenly it turns out that it all happened because of a failure in the electronic computing unit, which was delivered from China, and the unit was not designed to operate in space. What kind of reform in science can we talk about?
"What has been happening to the Russian Academy of Sciences is a great shame for our country where academicians became our enemies just because they are older. How can one destroy the intellect of the nation? The explosion of Proton, I believe, is a vivid picture, a symbol of what is happening now to our science."