Lost In Space Again

When it comes to launching satellites, the Russians can’t seem to catch a break.

Russia Loses Contact With Satellite After Rocket Launch

Russia’s Federal Space Agency lost contact with a new communications satellite shortly after it launched into space due to an apparent communication glitch on the spacecraft’s rocket, Russia’s space agency has reported.

The satellite, called Express-AM4, blasted off atop a Proton rocket on Wednesday (Aug. 17) at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT) from the central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was early Thursday morning local time.

According to a translated statement posted in Russian to the country’s Federal Space Agency website, officials said flight controllers lost contact with the satellite due to an apparent communications problem with the Proton rocket’s Breeze M upper stage. Later, another statement suggested that the rocket stage may have been found though the status of the Express-AM4 satellite was unclear.

. . .

The new rocket malfunction is the latest of several embarrassing Russian launch failures or incidents for Russia’s space program in a single year.

See also:
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Lost Russian satellite found in wrong orbit
Russia loses newly launched telecom satellite
Russian Inquiry Into Express-AM4’s Anomaly…
Russia loses contact with $265-million Express-AM4 satellite shortly after launch
Satellite loss deals ‘severe blow’ to Russia: experts
Powerful communications satellite feared lost in space
Contact lost with freshly launched satellite in Russia
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Russia loses contact with satellite after launch: reports
Russian Federal Mission Express-AM4 Anomaly Investigation Underway
Russia loses contact with just-launched £160m satellite in latest setback for its space industry
Russia loses contact with Europe’s biggest communications satellite
Russian satellite missing within hours of takeoff
Russia Loses Contact With Newly-Launched Satellite

Looking on the bright side, at least they don’t currently have this sort of problem with their manned space flights.

/which is a really good thing since, now that the U.S. space shuttle program is grounded, we depend on Russia to ferry out astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station

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Missed It By That Much

Oops.

Unmanned capsule misses space station

An unmanned Russian cargo ship sailed past the International Space Station instead of docking on autopilot, as engineers on Earth struggle to determine what went wrong.

A telemetry lock between the Russian-made Progress module and the space station was lost and the module flew past at a safe distance. NASA said the crew was never in danger and that the supplies are not critical and will not affect station operations.

NASA said that it will not attempt another docking today. Russian flight controllers don’t know yet what caused the failure in the unmanned modules automated docking system.

The robotic cargo ship Progress 38 was slated to dock at the space station at 12:58 p.m. ET (1658 GMT) but lost its navigational lock on the orbiting lab about 25 minutes before the rendezvous.

“The Progress literally flew past the station, but at a safe distance from the outpost,” NASA commentator Rob Navias said. “The station crew reported seeing the Progress drift beyond their view, as they worked to reestablish telemetry with the spacecraft.”

The Progress 38 spacecraft flew by the space station at a distance of several kilometers (a couple miles) away, posing no threat of impact. But because of its orbit, there may not be a second chance to dock the spacecraft by remote control today, Navias said.

Known in Russia as Progress M-06M, the new Progress 38 spacecraft is packed with nearly 2.5 tons of fresh food, clothes, equipment and other supplies for the space station’s six-person crew. It launched Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

See also:
Russian cargo ship ‘under control’ official says
Russian ship zips by International Space Station after failing to dock
Resupply vessel fails to dock with space station
Russian cargo ship fails to dock with ISS
Cargo ship misses space station docking
Robotic cargo spacecraft misses rendezvous with ISS
Unmanned cargo spacecraft misses tryst with ISS
Supply spacecraft misses space station
June 30, Soyuz-U – Progress M-06M (38P)
Progress M-06M

I’m sure they’ll get this errant Progress under control and docked with the ISS. However, it’s worth noting that, after the last two Space Shuttles stop flying, there’s no plan B anymore, it’s the Russian spacecraft or nothing.

/of course, we had a follow on to the Space Shuttle, but Obama canceled it