rsaNo more than five Proton-M rockets may be launched from Baikonur (Kazakhstan) before the end of this year if the launches resume in September, a Baikonur spokesman said. “The number of launches is limited by the capacity of the station fueling Briz-M upper stages of Proton-M rockets. The station can fuel only one upper stage per month,” he said. If the first launch is made in early September and launch preparations begin on the first days of August, then it will be possible to fuel five Briz-M upper stages and make five launches before this year ends, the source said. Launches of five satellites and the International Space Station (ISS) Multirole Laboratory Module are on the preliminary schedule, he said. Astra 2E, which was supposed to be put into orbit on July 21, Sirius FM-6 scheduled for positioning on August 14, Russia’s Cosmos defense satellite expected to be launched in early autumn, Express AM5 intended for a late October launch and Inmarsat 5 F1 due to be delivered into orbit at the end of this year are waiting for their turn. The launching of several satellites has been delayed until next year due to the Proton-M crash, the source said.

As it happened after the crash of 2011, commercial clients may demand a demonstration of the Proton-M’s reliability with the launch of a Russian satellite. “The Cosmos defense satellite or the Express-AM5 may be used for such testing,” he said.

The Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass-M satellites blasted off from the 81st launch site in Baikonur on July 2. It deviated from its designated trajectory almost immediately after the takeoff, began falling into pieces in mid-air, fell and exploded upon impact.

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By Expat