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Report: control system malfunction caused Tsiklon 3 failure
Posted: Thu, Jan 11, 2001, 3:42 PM ET (2042 GMT)
A control system failure caused the third stage of a Tsiklon 3 booster to prematurely shut down several minutes after launch last month, preventing its payload of six satellites from reaching orbit, Russian officials said Wednesday. Space News reported that a commission investigating the December 27 launch failure has concluded that a problem with the control system caused the booster's third-stage engine to shut down 6 minutes and 7 seconds after liftoff from Plesetsk, Russia. The premature shutdown prevented the booster's payload of six small communications satellites from achieving low Earth orbit, instead reentering the Earth's atmosphere over northeastern Russia. Why the control system malfunctioned is unclear: Space News said either defective parts or age -- the booster was assembled a decade ago -- may have played a role. A final report from the commission on the launch failure is not expected for several weeks.
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