World

Russia’s Embarrassing $58 Million Satellite Launch Failure ‘Human Error’

The failed launch of a 2.6 billion-rouble ($58 million) weather satellite last month was due to an embarrassing programming error, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin says.

Key points:

  • Russia’s space agency lost contact with the satellite last month
  • Satellite was programmed with coordinates of wrong cosmodrome
  • 18 smaller satellites from around the world were on board same rocket

Russian space agency Roscosmos said last month it had lost contact with the newly launched weather satellite — the Meteor-M — after it blasted off from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome in the east of the country.

Eighteen smaller satellites belonging to scientific, research and commercial companies from Russia, Norway, Sweden, the United States, Japan, Canada and Germany, were on board the same rocket.

Speaking to Rossiya 24 state TV channel, Mr Rogozin said the failure had been caused by human error.

The rocket carrying the satellites had been programmed with the wrong coordinates, he said, saying it had been given bearings for take-off from a different cosmodrome — Baikonur — which Moscow leases from Kazakhstan.

“The rocket was really programmed as if it was taking off from Baikonur,” said Rogozin.

“They didn’t get the coordinates right.”

The Vostochny spaceport, laid out in the thick taiga forest of the Amur Region, is the first civilian rocket launch site in Russia.

In April last year, after delays and massive costs overruns, Russia launched its first rocket from Vostochny, a day after a technical glitch forced an embarrassing postponement of the event in the presence of President Vladimir Putin.

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