Saturday, August 20, 2011

Russia loses contact with just-launched £160m satellite in latest setback for its space industry - 19th Aug 2011

Russia has lost track of a newly-launched, multi-million-pound telecommunications satellite, the latest in a series of setbacks that have dogged its space industry.

The £160million Express AM-4 satellite, described by its makers as the most powerful satellite ever built in Europe, launched in the early hours of yesterday morning aboard a Proton-M rocket from the Russian-leased launchpad in Kazakhstan.

The Russian space agency said the first stages of the launch went smoothly but communication with the satellite was lost due to a failure of the Briz-M upper stage.

It said experts were working to re-establish contact with the craft, built by Astrium, a unit of European aerospace group EADS, to provide digital TV, internet and telecoms services for Russia over the next 15 years.

The spacecraft was fully insured for 7.5 billion roubles (£160million) with Russian insurance company Ingosstrakh. Read More