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Proton launch fails
Posted: Tue, Feb 28, 2006, 10:14 PM ET (0314 GMT)
Proton launch (file photo) The launch of a commercial communications satellite on a Proton failed Tuesday night when the rocket's upper stage shut down prematurely. The Proton M rocket, carrying the Arabsat 4A spacecraft, lifted off on schedule at 3:10 pm EST Tuesday (2010 GMT Tuesday, 2:10 am Wednesday local time). The lower stages of the Proton had placed the spacecraft and the Breeze M upper stage into a low parking orbit. The Breeze M was scheduled to fire four times to place Arabsat 4A into geosynchronous transfer orbit, but according to a statement by International Launch Services (ILS), the Breeze M "shut down early during its planned burn sequence." While ILS did not comment on the status of the satellite, it is likely in a useless low orbit. The cause of the failure is not known, and a Russian state commission is being formed to investigate the failure, according to ILS.
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