Russian Communications Satellite Crash Caused by Engine Failure
    2012-01-31 21:53:47     Xinhua       Web Editor: liuranran

The crash of Russia's communications satellite "Meridian" was caused by the malfunction of one of the satellite carrier rocket's engines, Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said Tuesday.

The dual-purpose satellite was launched by a Russian Soyuz-2.1b rocket from Russia's Plesetsk space center on Dec. 23 and crashed in Siberia region only minutes after the launch.

"An inter-agency commission has concluded that the reason was an early opening of the combustion section of the rocket's third stage," Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said, adding that the combustion section had "virtually burned through."

However, he didn't specify what triggered the problem.

Russia suffered a string of space mission failures in 2011. On Feb. 1, a Rokot carrier rocket failed to send a military satellite to the designed orbit.

On Aug. 18, a Proton-M rocket carrying a high-power Express-AM4 communications satellite failed to reach the planned orbit and, only one week later, a Progress M-12M cargo ship failed to reach the International Space Station due to a rocket malfunction.

Russia's Phobos-Grunt mission to Mars, carrying China's micro-satellite Yinghuo-1, was launched on Nov. 9 but also failed to reach the intended orbit.

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