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Russian officials feeling heat of failed satellite launch

Russia: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has formally reprimanded the chief of his country’s national space agency (Roscosmos) and fired two other high-ranking space officials over the loss of three state-of-the-art navigation satellites, according to a Kremlin (Russia Federal Government) statement.

A follow-up investigation traced the failure to an embarrassing mistake: “Technicians apparently loaded the Proton rocket’s Block DM-3 upper stage with one to two tons more fuel than planned, which sent the booster off course.”

According to the statement, Medvedev fired Viktor Remishevsky, deputy chief of Russia’s Federal Space Agency, and Vyacheslav Filin, vice president and deputy chief of the rocket manufacturer RSC Energia, after receiving the report on the launch failure investigation.

The two space officials were fired “for the errors made in the calculations for refuelling the vehicle’s Block DM-3 upper stage,” according to the statement. Medvedev also issued a formal reprimand to Anatoly Perminov, chief of Roscosmos. “Roscosmos will take additional measures to reinforce disciplinary measures,” the statement read.

Russia’s Glonass-M satellites perform a navigation service to Russian civilian and military customers similar to US’ GPS satellites. The satellites each weigh just over 3,000 pounds (1,415 kilograms) at liftoff and are designed to last seven years in orbit, according to the satellite fleet manufacturer Information Satellite Systems Reshetnev Co.

There are 26 Glonass satellites in orbit, with two reserved as spares. The satellite constellation is split into three groups of eight craft to provide global coverage.

A new series of Glonass satellite, the Glonass-K series, is currently in development, Russian space officials have said.

Source: MSNBC