Chalk up another loss for space/launch insurance underwriters. A Proton/Briz M launch’s 3rd stage failed and lost MexSat-1 (a.k.a. Centenario) — a huge Boeing 702 intended for mobile and fixed services (L- and Ku-band).
What happened? Anatoly Zak gives the best, most-qualified explanation. Probably fuel line problems.
Add this to a Soyuz launch anomaly earlier this month and you would think this may be a pattern. Is it technical or is it systemic? Probably both.
One could argue there’s a lack of enthusiasm and a brain-drain of top Ukrainian engineering talent in the Russian space business. Or it could be the return of the “old Soviet work ethic,” where nobody really cares. People get promoted to positions of authority without really being qualified, just so they can be “controlled” by others at the Kremlin. That’s what I think is happening.
It goes back more than 10 years, around the time Putin started going after complete control of Russia. In 2006, Mario Lemme’s Space Transport Inc. was created to take control of International Launch Services, the joint venture created to market Proton and Atlas launches. Since then, the market for commercial launches has changed (thank you, SpaceX), but the prices for launch services has gone up. But the technical success helps further development of non-commercial and space-exploration systems. With the world still dependent on getting humans to/from the ISS using the Soyuz launcher, we’re in a spot of trouble.
Meanwhile, how are we to substitute our supply source for RD-180 engines? We need to make this a priority. Rather, the big boys in the U.S. are more concerned about corporate headcount (read about the “mothers day massacre”).
Science likes to explain things with facts. Political views tend to use some facts. But outright liars and social manipulators such as Putin and his fellow KGB remnants don’t get along with any facts they don’t like. They just want control. Control of people, money and probably access to space from Russian territory (hence the pressure to build Vostochny).
Succeeding in space will further popularize Putin in Russia and that’s what he’s after. Fuck science: Russia’s space industry is failing due to “moral issues,” according to Rogozin.