Both the Russians and Europeans can suffer from the fall of the Russian Proton-M launch vehicle with a French-made communication satellite
On the night from Thursday to Friday, the Russian Proton-M carrier rocket crashed with the Express-AM4P communications satellite, commissioned by the Russian company Cosmic Communications, by the European company EADS Astrium.
The launch vehicle (PH) was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome at the estimated time - 1: 42 Moscow time. Her first two steps worked out normally. However, on the 540 second flight, when an 40 seconds remained before the planned separation of the Briz-M upper stage with the satellite on board, the accident occurred.
In the first hours after the accident, news agencies spread the information that its preliminary cause was the abnormal operation of one of the third-stage steering engines of the Proton-M. However, the head of Roscosmos Oleg Ostapenko advised not to rush to conclusions. “No, it’s impossible to say that the steering engine is to blame for everything. It is necessary to understand everything in detail. As long as there is preliminary information that an emergency shutdown of third-stage engines occurred in 545 seconds, and that approximately 20 seconds before, according to the received telemetry, one of the steering engines worked abnormally. Naturally, therefore, the parameters of the entire flight of the rocket began to change, and in accordance with the program, when it went beyond the permissible limits, a simultaneous emergency shutdown of the engines occurred, ”RIA News.
But in the Roskosmos, the LV, the accelerating unit, the satellite and the remains of rocket fuel were burned down when they fell in the atmosphere, they are surely certain. “It is confirmed that the launch vehicle, the upper stage and the satellite were completely burned in the dense layers of the atmosphere. It happened over the territory of China. Taking into account the height of the orbit, we can confidently say that nothing has reached the Earth, ”said Oleg Ostapenko.
The current accident, the Proton-M, put an end to the eleventh spacecraft (SC), which Russia has been trying to bring with the help of this launch vehicle into space in the last 5 years. It's a lot. This is very much by the standards of the modern space industry for delivering a spacecraft to Earth orbit. Therefore, the consequences of this accident can be much more serious than the previous ones.
Elapsed time does not return
The Express-AM4P satellite, which burned down during the Proton-M accident, was to become the most powerful and most high-tech Russian communications satellite. This spacecraft with a mass of about 5,8 tons was built on the basis of the Eurostar ЕNNUMX platform and equipped with 3000 transponders of the C, Ku, Ka, L-band and 63 antennas to provide a stable connection coverage throughout the territory of Russia and the CIS countries. In fact, this satellite was to become a symbol of the triumph of the Russian telecommunications operators and the guarantor of sustainable television and radio broadcasting, access to the Internet, and telephony in the vast majority of our country's territories, including in the Arctic zone. However, now this triumph is postponed indefinitely.
“The loss of the spacecraft Express-AM4R put an end to the work of many specialists and, without doubt, is a tragic event for the entire communications industry in Russia. Given that the spacecraft was insured, the time spent on its production cannot be returned to us, ”the head of the Federal Communications Agency Oleg Dukhovnitsky told RIA Novosti with obvious annoyance in his voice.
And the annoyance of Russian telecom operators can be easily understood. Initially, the Express-AM4 satellite with the help of Proton-M was to be launched into orbit as early as 2011. According to the then Minister of Communications of Russia Igor Shchegolev, this spacecraft was supposed to be "an outstanding telecommunications satellite in its parameters, not only for Russia, but for the whole world." With his help, for example, they were going to make a large-scale transition from analogue to digital television in most of the country. However, the Briz-M overclocking unit as part of the Proton-M failed, and in March 2012, the coolest Russian communications satellite had to be drowned in the Pacific Ocean.
In exchange, its European company EADS Astrium commissioned by the FSUE "Space Communications" in the framework of the Russian Federal Space Program for 2006-2015, built the satellite Express-AM4R. However, it also burned down in the atmosphere from Thursday to Friday due to the accident of the launch vehicle. In the interim, in 2012, the Proton-M with RB Briz-M could not bring the Express-MD2 communication satellite into the calculated orbit, which, by order of Cosmic Communications, was manufactured jointly with the Italians by the state space science and production center to them. Khrunichev (GKNPTs im.Hrunicheva), and the Indonesian communications satellite Russian-French production Telcom-3.
Thus, if we count the six Glonnass-M satellites lost in 2010 and 2013, and the Yamal satellite, which reached the calculated orbit on its own engines (because of this, its service life in orbit was reduced by 1,5 times) since December 2010, due to the Proton-M crashes and the Briz-M upper stage, Russia and foreign countries have lost more than a dozen spacecraft.
Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after Tsiolkovsky, Andrey Ionin, for example, believes that the reason for this is in the system problems of the space industry. “What is happening, these abnormal, emergency situations are not the result of the work of specific people in the leadership of Roskosmos, but of the systemic problems that have accumulated in the industry, industry, economy, education, training of workers and engineers. A whole range of reasons, so the need to reform the industry. We must not tear our hair, but even more rigidly, consistently, with more political will and speed, carry out reforms in the industry, ”he stressed.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, in charge of the government in space, adheres to the same position. “The only way to deal with accidents is to consistently implement the decisions already taken on the reform of the rocket and space industry,” he wrote on his blog on Twitter.
At the end of last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the creation of the United Rocket and Space Corporation, which will include all industrial enterprises of the industry. At the same time, branch scientific institutes and organizations of ground infrastructure will remain in Roscosmos. Obviously, such a reform of the industry is long overdue, and the situation with today's fall of the Proton-M will spur this reform.
Looking to the West
The current fall of the Proton-M is also not good due to the fact that it happened against the background of a decrease in the level of cooperation between Russia and the Western community in the rocket and space sphere. Moreover, the situation is paradoxical. The main "deteriorator" is the United States, seeking in this uncomplicated way to put pressure on Russia and change our country's position in relation to the events in Ukraine. Moreover, they are crushing both directly - prohibiting, for example, their companies from supplying our country with an electronic component base for the "stuffing" of satellites, and indirectly - through their allies in Europe. In April, for example, the United States, in fact, banned the Europeans from launching spacecraft that contain American components on Russian launch vehicles. This casts doubt on the prospects for the Russian launch of the Astra 2G telecommunications satellite company SAS, the two telecommunications satellites Inmarsat 5 F2 and the Turkish satellite Turksat 4B this year.
Sensible Europeans, in turn, do not want the United States to dance to the tune. They also understand the duplicity of the position of the American authorities regarding Ukraine, and that at the expense of Europe, the US wants to ensure the filling of its own market of space services for cargo delivery to near-Earth orbit. Therefore, the main "cosmonaut" of Europe - France, in fact, sabotages all US attempts to drive a wedge into Russian-French space programs, including the launch of Russian launch vehicles from its cosmodrome in Kourou (French Guiana).
But with all the good relations between Russia and France, the once-burnt Proton-M could become just the straw that, as the old Eastern saying goes, could break the camel's ridge. Therefore, the investigation of this accident, which is entrusted to a special commission under the leadership of the deputy head of the Roskosmos head scientific organization - TsNIIMash, Alexander Danilyuk, will be under scrutiny not only of Russia, but also of the international community. Because the question of the Europeans is now exactly this way - is it possible to continue to rely on Russians in joint space programs or will it still have to turn towards the Americans?
I hope that the answer to this question will nevertheless be the continuation of Russian-European cooperation in space. Because the meticulous French can not pay attention to one significant fact in the Russian rocket and space industry. The two main Russian launch vehicles are now the heavy Proton-M and the Soyuz middle class RN. The first makes GKNPTs im.Hrunicheva (Moscow), the second - "TsSKB-Progress" (Samara). According to statistics, on the 35 launches "Proton-M" from the Republic of Belarus "Breeze-M" from October 2010 to the present day had 6 off-nominal. "Unions" of different modifications started 26 times during the same time. Moreover, from different places - from Plisetsk, from Baikonur, from Kuru. In this case, only 1 launch was recognized as non-standard - when “Soyuz-2-1b” from RB “Frigate” 23.12.2011 of the year could not bring the military satellite “Meridian-5” into the calculated orbit. But even in this case, the reason for the loss of the satellite was nothing other than the abnormal operation of the RD-0124 engine of the third stage of the launch vehicle, which is small-scale manufactured in the Voronezh Design Bureau of Automatization.
This does not mean that Proton-M is worse than the Union. These are equally good, reliable vehicles, which for several decades have been consistently delivering cargo to near-earth orbit, and the Soyuz also people. But such statistics suggest that the problem of falling Protons is not only the need to reform the entire rocket and space industry in Russia, but also to induce staffing (that is, one that complies with established regulations) of the technological order in a single enterprise. Because when the commission finds out that the cause of the fall of the Proton-M with three Glonass-M satellites last year was the incorrect installation of the angular velocity sensors of the RN control system, it is no longer funny.
Three of these six sensors, according to the commission, were installed “upside down” and, accordingly, could not give out correct information, which led to the deviation of the rocket from a given course and its subsequent fall.
Moreover, the technological holes for the installation of these sensors provide only one position - the correct one. In the "upside down" position the sensor does not climb. But someone from the "Khrunychevtsy", obviously, somehow managed to "push" them in this way. “Experts have found that on the mating surfaces of three of the six sensors there are signs characteristic of traces that appeared during experiments on the abnormal installation of the device - it was installed upside down. The identified damage coincided almost completely, ”the Roskosmos was then stressed. And such a case is absolutely contrary to the highest production culture that developed in Soviet times and is still supported at most of the existing enterprises of the Russian rocket and space industry. Therefore, with the widespread restoration of such a culture of production, obviously, we must begin the reform of the industry.