Breeze-M Commission may delay launches

by Chris Bergin

The Russian State Failure Commission, formed to investigate the anomaly that occurred during the February 28 launch of the Proton/Breeze M with the Arabsat 4A satellite, will meet again on April 10.

However, preliminary results are pointing towards a delay of several months, required to carry out corrective work on the Breeze M (Briz M) upper stage – cancelling the May 17th launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome of the Hot Bird 8 satellite.

Latest reports note that the investigation has focused on a technical defect in the Breeze M’s C5.98 engine unit, which may have led to the destruction of the turbine pump and the ending of the powered flight of the vehicle a full 200 seconds too early in its second burn of 1851 seconds.

The premature end to the flight saw the ArabSat 4A only reach a 14,700km apogee and 507.8km perigee orbit – when it required a geo-transfer orbit.

It was hoped that engineers could send the satellite on a slingshot trip around the moon to achieve a working orbit, but that mission ended in failure.


The launch was overseen by ILS (International Launch Services), who have formed a Failure Review Oversight Board, led by Eric Laursen, the vice president of ILS and their chief engineer.

The satellite was built by EADS for Saudi-based ArabSat, and was designed to transmit television programmes to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Hot Bird 8 – the largest satellite built by Eutelsat for its customer EADS ASTRIUM – could be pushed down the schedule to the end of this year, or move to a launch via Arianespace’s Ariane 5 launcher, which recently launched one of the earlier range, the Hot Bird 7A.

Hot Bird 8 is important to its customer, given its mission to replace existing HOT BIRD capacity, joining HOT BIRD 7A, 13 degrees East.

The satellite has been designed to cover all 102 Ku-band transponders/frequencies at 13 degrees East which means that it can substitute any transponder on the other HOT BIRD satellites.


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