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Proton launch fails
Posted: Thu, Sep 6, 2007, 8:39 AM ET (1239 GMT)
Proton launch (file photo) A Proton rocket carrying a Japanese communications satellite failed to reach orbit early Thursday because of an anomaly with the vehicle's second stage. The Proton-M, carrying the JCSAT-11 spacecraft, lifted off on schedule at 6:43 pm EDT Wednesday (2243 GMT Wednesday, 4:43 am Thursday local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. While the launch initially proceeded as planned, the Proton's second-stage engines apparently failed to ignite, causing the upper stages of the rocket to crash on Kazakh territory downrange from the launch site. Few other details about the accident have been released; International Launch Services, which markets the Proton for commercial customers, said in a statement that a Russian State Commission has been convened to investigate the accident. The Proton's payload, JCSAT-11, was a 4,000-kilogram communications satellite built by Lockheed Martin for Japanese satellite operator JSAT, and was to be a backup to the company's existing fleet of spacecraft. The failure is the second in approximately 18 months for the Proton: a commercial Proton launch in March 2006 failed because of a problem with the vehicle's Breeze-M upper stage.
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