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Emergency cutout of propulsion unit of Proton-M rocket occurred

An emergency cutout of the propulsion unit of the Proton-M carrier rocket occurred between the separation of the second and third stages, an official at Roscosmos (Russia's Federal Space Agency) has told Itar-Tass.

"Contact with the carrier rocket was lost in the 540th second after liftoff," the official specified, adding, "It is known that the nose cone did not separate from the rocket". "Efforts are being made to find out the causes of the emergency," the Federal Agency official pointed out.

The control engine of the third stage of Proton-M failed in the 545th second of the flight, a source at Baikonur (spaceport) told Itar-Tass. Third-stage engines for Proton space rockets are manufactured at the Voronezh-based OAO "Khimavtomatika Design Bureau" (KBKhA) space-rocket industry enterprise.

The carrier rocket Proton-M was to deploy into orbit a Russian communications satellite Express-AM4R the highest-powered and technologically effective commsat which was intended to become a third spacecraft of the Express series launched in 2014.

Non-deployment of the satellite

The non-deployment of the communications satellite Express-AM4R into orbit was caused by an abnormal situation, Irina Zubareva, press secretary of the Roscosmos director, told Itar-Tass on Friday.

"An abnormal situation developed during the insertion in the operation of the third stage of the carrier rocket, and the spacecraft Express-AM4R was not deployed into orbit. State commission members are now busy analyzing telemetric data, seeking to find out the causes of the abnormal situation," she said.

Where did fragments of Proton-M fall

Fragments of the carrier rocket could fall in unforeseen debris impact areas, a space industry source has told Itar-Tass. "In any case, Proton-M rocket fragments did not fall in the grounds of Baikonur, or in general in the territory of Kazakhstan.

Most probably, this happened (when the rocket was) already far away, in an off-normal impact area," the source said.

"All the causes and a possible impact area are being ascertained. No information has been received from Baikonur so far, since people monitoring the Proton-M liftoff are in a bunker at the moment of liftoff proper," the source specified. He added, "The breakdown occurred during the operation of the third stage of the carrier rocket, prior to the acceleration unit's separation".

"The Proton-M carrier rocket at this moment is most likely in a non-intended orbit. The propulsion unit emergency cutout, which happened in the 540th second (of the flight) during the operation of the third stage, was not necessarily to result in its fall," a source at Russia's Federal Space Agency has told Itar-Tass.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 16May14]

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