Russia Suffers Embarrassing Pair of Space Mishaps

Admits this week it has lost contact with 2 satellites
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2017 7:07 AM CST
Russia Loses Its Own Satellite, and Then Angola's
A Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket carrying Meteor M satellite and additional 18 small satellites, lifts off from the launch pad at the new Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky, about 125 miles from the city of Blagoveshchensk in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017.   (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

"The situation is being analyzed." Such is the pronouncement from the Kremlin following a pair of embarrassing space-related mishaps. On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin revealed that human error was responsible for the loss of a $45 million weather satellite called Meteor-M; the rocket carrying that satellite and 18 smaller payloads was launched Nov. 28 from the Vostochny cosmodrome, but Reuters reports the coordinates it was programmed with were for a launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome. The AP describes the latter as Russia's main launch pad, which it leases in Kazakhstan. Russia's space agency has lost contact with Meteor-M as a result. And the bad news for the country comes in twos.

On Thursday came the admission that communication has also been lost with Angola's first national telecoms satellite, dubbed AngoSat-1, which Reuters reports was launched from Baikonur on Tuesday and intended to serve a 15-year communications-boosting mission. Leading Russian spacecraft manufacturer Energia produced the AngoSat-1, and it confirmed it established communication with the satellite after it reached orbit, but "after a while it had stopped sending telemetry" data. No reason for the severed contact was given, though one space expert speculates the many delays in launching and the resulting extended storage time could have damaged the satellite. The AFP notes the $280 million project included the training of roughly 50 Angolan aerospace engineers assigned to work with the satellite. (The International Space Station is conducting an experiment for Budweiser.)

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