December 11, 2012
Credit: Credit: Thales Alenia Space
Controllers for Thales Alenia Space will attempt to recover Russia’s new Yamal 402 Ku-band satellite after it was left in the wrong orbit Saturday by the premature shutdown of the Briz M upper stage.
The balky upper stage shut down 4 min. early, according to International Launch Services (ILS), and subsequently separated the spacecraft. An ILS spokeswoman said Monday the satellite was being tracked, but declined to release information on its position in orbit. The ILS customers for the launch said the satellite was left low and in the wrong inclination.
Thales Alenia Space built the 4,500-kg spacecraft on its Spacebus 4000 platform for Russia’s Gazprom Space Systems, a subsidiary of energy giant Gazprom. Thales and Gazprom are working to recover the spacecraft.
“Thales Alenia Space and Gazprom Space Systems will proceed to all the necessary maneuvers in order to optimize and reconfigure the flight plan from the lower and more inclined than expected transfer orbit let by the launcher, into its correct geostationary orbit,” Thales Alenia Space stated. “These maneuvers will be carried out securely and with optimized minimum use of propellant.”
The nominal service life for Yamal 402 is 15 years, and there was no immediate word on how much of that would be lost in consuming fuel to position the satellite properly. Yamal 302 was designed to operate 46 Ku-band transponders at 55 deg. East Long., to service Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Saturday’s upper stage failure was the third for a Briz M in 16 months. The mission began with liftoff of the Proton/Briz M stack from Baikonur Cosmdrome, and proceeded normally for more than 9 hr. until the premature shutdown. Thales Alenia Space said the spacecraft was functioning nominally, with its solar arrays partially deployed.
Russia formed a state commission to investigate the cause of the latest anomaly, and ILS said it establish its own failure review oversight board (FROB) in parallel with the official probe. “The FROB will review the commission’s final report and corrective action plan, according with U.S. and Russian government export control regulations,” ILS said.