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Ukrainian satellites fail to reach proper orbit
Posted: Tue, Dec 28, 2004, 12:13 PM ET (1713 GMT)
Russian officials confirmed Monday that a pair of Ukrainian satellites launched Friday on Tsiklon booster failed to reach their proper orbits because of an upper-stage malfunction. The satellites, Sich-1M and KS5MF2, were launched Friday on a Tsiklon-3 booster from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The satellites were designed to be placed in circular 650-km orbits, but tracking data indicated that the orbits were instead elliptical, with a perigee below 300 km. According to the RIA Novosti news agency, the third-stage engine shut down one minute early on its second burn, resulting in the elliptical orbit. Sich-1M, the primary payload on the booster, will be able to achieve its designed orbit using its onboard thrusters, but the maneuvers will drain much of its propellant and reduce its lifetime from three years to one. The smaller satellite, KS5MF2, has no thrusters, and will burn up in the atmosphere in the near future, according to RIA Novosti. The National Space Agency of Ukraine, which oversees both the satellites and the Tsiklon booster, plans to conduct an investigation at a later date.
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