Roscosmos Tallies Cost of December’s Launch Failure

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PARIS — The December failure of a Proton rocket carrying three Russian Glonass navigation satellites cost the Russian government 2.5 billion rubles ($84 million), the head of the Russian space agency said Jan. 25.

Roscosmos Director Anatoly N. Perminov said his agency is negotiating with Russia’s Defense Ministry in an attempt to accelerate the production and launch of three replacement satellites for Glonass. He said building and launching three new Glonass satellites would cost about as much as the losses from the December failure.

In remarks published on the Roscosmos website, Perminov said he is hopeful that a heavy-lift Proton rocket with three Glonass spacecraft will be launched by June. A fourth Glonass satellite, using a new design that has yet to be tested in orbit, is near completion and could be launched as a solo passenger aboard a medium-lift Soyuz rocket as early as February, he said.

Perminov said the satellites destroyed in the December failure were not fully insured. But he suggested that Russian authorities are willing to insure government satellite launches.

The Dec. 5 failure was blamed on a fueling blunder that caused the Proton to launch with an excessive amount of propellant in the rocket’s recently modified Block DM upper stage.

In the wake of the failure, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed two high-ranking Russian space officials and publicly reprimanded Perminov.