Russian Rocket Fails to Put US Satellite in Orbit

Booster failure leaves it short of the altitude telecom device needed
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Mar 16, 2008 3:15 PM CDT
A Russian Proton-M booster with a U.S. built AMS-14 satellite aboard stands at a launch pad at the Russian-rented Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, March 15, 2008.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Russian rocket was unable to launch a US telecommunications satellite into its designated orbit yesterday, the AP reports. The rocket fell 5,000 miles short of its goal of 22,400 miles when the rocket's second booster turned off too early. The satellite could have reached its destination on its own propulsion system, but such a move would leave the spacecraft low on fuel for future maneuvers, reports the BBC.

It's the third time in three years that a Proton rocket has malfunctioned; last time, in September 2007, a rocket carrying a Japanese satellite crashed in Kazakhstan. The Proton is the product of a joint US-Russian project, the International Launch Service. A Russian commission will investigate yesterday's incident, but it may take as long as month to iron out the details.