Space: Russian Rocket Reliability at Risk

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April 5,2008: For the third time in two years, a Russian satellite launcher failed to put a foreign satellite into orbit. This time, it got the American AMC-14 satellite most of the way there, but left the bird 8,000 kilometers short of its 36,000 kilometer stationary orbit. The $192 million satellite can still use its internal fuel to get to its orbit, but that will substantially cut its expected useful life of fifteen years. Including the partial failures, the Russian-American firm, International Launch Service, is having about a ten percent failure rate. The Russian launchers, and Russian launch facilities, are cheaper than those in the West, and nearly as reliable. But these three failures of the Proton rocket are causing some concern among potential customers.

 


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