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Russian Proton Engines recalled - No flights until Spring

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Peartree

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Due to the recent first stage anomoly during the recent Echostar satellite launch, Russia is recalling all of the Proton rocket engines, investigating possible flaws, and looking looking to prosecute (or worse) anyone who screwed up.

The Russian government is investigating flaws found in Proton rocket engines, ordering all suspect components to be replaced before the heavy-lift booster can resume launches and promising penalties for those responsible for allowing substandard parts to slip through inspection.

The engine problems will keep Proton flights grounded for a few more months, and perhaps until June, meaning the rocket could go a year between missions.

The last Proton rocket lifted off June 9, 2016, with the Intelsat 31 communications satellite.

Russian officials postponed subsequent launches to investigate the premature shutdown of the Proton’s second stage on the Intelsat mission. The third stage and Breeze M upper stage had enough fuel to overcome the second stage shortfall, deploying Intelsat 31 into its intended orbit.

The inquiry into the second stage anomaly pushed back the launch of the EchoStar 21 satellite, a spacecraft to support mobile communications in Europe, to the end of 2016.

Russian news reports last month said officials were addressing defects discovered in heat-resistant metals used in the Proton’s second and third stage engines, requiring the engines to be shipped from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Proton rocket’s Khrunichev factory near Moscow back to their production site — the Voronezh Mechanical Plant, or VMZ, in southern Russia — for disassembly.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reported the alloys typically used in the RD-0210 and RD-0212 second and third stage engines were replaced with less expensive metals.

Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister whose portfolio includes the space industry, posted on Twitter on Jan. 28 that the faulty second and third stage engines would be replaced. In a series of tweets, Rogozin also thanked Khrunichev — the Proton rocket’s prime contractor — for finding the engine problems, and announced that officials from NPO Energomash — a rival Russian engine-builder — would “clean up the mess” at VMZ.

He tweeted that three Proton rockets would be dismantled, and said those responsible for the unauthorized use of substandard alloys will be punished.


Full article here
 
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