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Russia Loses Another Satellite In Launch Accident

Booster Failed To Make Orbit, Payload Burned Up As It Fell Back To Earth

Russia's space program has suffered another setback with the loss of a communications satellite that failed to reach orbit atop a Proton rocket that launched Friday from Kazakhstan.

The French news service AFP reports that Russian television showed the Express-AM4P communications satellite burning up in the atmosphere after the rocket failed 545 seconds after launching from the Baikonur Space Center. A commentator for Russia's Channel One television said "we have an emergency situation," and later "the flight is over."

Roscosmos said it had formed a special commission "to analyze the telemetric data and discover the reasons for the emergency situation."

The satellite was built by Astrium, now Airbus Defense and Space Group. It was intended to provide Internet service to remote regions of Russia.

A previous string of failed launches led to the firing of Vladimir Popovkin as the head of Roscosmos in October 2013. The new head of the agency, Oleg Ostapenko, has an overhaul of the troubled and underfunded space program as his primary charge, and he has been given the equivalent of billions of dollars in additional state funding by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to accomplish that goal.



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