December 11, 2015

Russia lost a submarine tracking satellite when it failed to separate from its upper stage

Russia has lost a submarine tracking satellite.

Within 24 hours after the launch of the Kanopus-ST satellite, Russian media reported that one of the spaceceraft had failed to separate from the upper stage. The first report about the problem was issued by RIA Novosti at 13:18 Moscow Time on December 6.

On December 7, the official TASS news agency quoted an unnamed source at the Russian Air and Space Forces, VKS, as saying that the inter-agency commission at the Plesetsk launch site had declared the Kanopus-ST satellite a loss. Ground control attempted to establish contact with the spacecraft in an effort to issue backup commands for its separation from the upper stage but without success, the VKS source said. According to preliminary information, one of four locks attaching the satellite to the stage failed to open during the separation process, TASS reported. Like the rest of the satellite, pyrotechnic locks were assembled at PO Polyot company in the city of Omsk.

The separation system between Kanopus-ST and the Volga upper stage had been powered up and activated, however the spacecraft had still failed to separate, possibly, due to a mechanical problem with the lock.

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