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05 Jul 2020, Edition - 1818, Sunday

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World News

Russian satellite lost after being set to launch from wrong spaceport

theguardian.com

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Wednesday the loss of a 2.6bn-rouble ($45m) satellite launched last month was due to an embarrassing programming error.

Russian space agency Roscosmos said last month it had lost contact with the newly launched weather satellite – the Meteor-M – after it blasted off from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome in the country’s far east.

Speaking to Rossiya 24 state TV channel, Rogozin said the failure had been caused by human error. The rocket carrying the satellites had been programmed with the wrong coordinates, he said, saying it had been given bearings for take-off from a different cosmodrome – Baikonur – which Moscow leases from Kazakhstan.

“The rocket was really programmed as if it was taking off from Baikonur,” said Rogozin. “They didn’t get the coordinates right.”

The rocket was carrying 18 smaller satellites belonging to scientific, research and commercial companies from Russia, Norway, Sweden, the US, Japan, Canada and Germany.

The Vostochny spaceport, laid out in the thick taiga forest of the Amur region, is the first civilian rocket launch site in Russia.

In April last year, after delays and massive costs overruns, Russia launched its first rocket from Vostochny, a day after a technical glitch forced an embarrassing postponement of the event in the presence of the president, Vladimir Putin.

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