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Russia Loses Three Glonass-M Navigation Satellites in Failed Launch

Dec 6 2010, 8:55am CST | by , in News | Other Stuff

Russia Loses Three Glonass-M Navigation Satellites in Failed Launch
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Three nav satellites lost their way

Satellites are very expensive and very complex devices that can take years to design and build and mere seconds to destroy if things go awry at launch. The interesting thing to me about satellites has always been that they have to be very lightweight for the most part, so they can be hefted into a stabile orbit, but be strong enough to withstand the crazy forces at launch.

Russia was set to launch the third cluster of three Glonass-M satellites that have been put into orbit this year. The satellites each weigh in at 3,000 pounds and were crammed aboard a massive Proton Rocket and launched at about 5:245 a.m. December 5 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The satellites launch in groups of three and are were being put into orbit to improve and overhaul the navigation system in Russia. Something went very wrong with the launch and shortly after liftoff, confirmation was received that the launch had failed.

The three satellites failed to reach the proper orbit and reportedly fell back to earth and crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 1,500 miles north of Hawaii. The Glonass-M satellites are reportedly very much like the GPS satellites that we use here in the US for vehicle navigation and military use. Russian Federal Space Agency officials said, "According to telemetry, the spacecraft's cluster was lofted into non-targeted orbit." A board of inquiry to look into the failed launch has been established.

A Russian paper called Ria Novosti cited by Space.com wrote, "Three Glonass-M satellites fell into a non-navigational area of the Pacific Ocean in some 1,500 kilometers northwest of the city of Honolulu, administrative center of the state of Hawaii."

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