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Russia lost $45 million weather satellite due to human error

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Staff Writer | Thursday January 4, 2018 8:43AM ET
Russia weather satellite
Technology   Baikonur is a frequent launch site

The loss of a $45 million Russian weather satellite last November was due to human error, a high-ranking official said, because the satellite's programming was set for the wrong launch site.


Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told Russian state television that the programming for the satellite, called Meteor-M No.2-1, included instructions based on the satellite launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, east of Russia.

Baikonur is a frequent launch site for satellites and astronauts. However, Meteor-M launched from the new Vostochny launch site in eastern Russian.

"The rocket was really programmed as if it was taking off from Baikonur," Rogozin said in remarks reprinted in The Guardian last week. "They didn't get the coordinates right."

The Soyuz-2.1b rocket – carrying Meteor-M and several other satellites – appeared to lift off normally from Vostochny Nov. 28. Shortly after launch, however, Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said it could not communicate with Meteor-M because the satellite was in the wrong orbit.

Canadian operator Telesat said later that day that the launch had failed. Telesat was carrying a prototype satellite for a low-Earth orbit broadband constellation on the same Soyuz rocket.

It added that the launch failure would not delay the long-term plans of the constellation.

"Notwithstanding this failure, Telesat's plans to develop a state-of-the-art, high capacity LEO constellation that will deliver transformative, low latency, fiber-like broadband to commercial and government users worldwide, remain on track," the company said in November.

 

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