The third stage of Proton-M rocket with the upper stage Breeze-M and the Mexican communications satellite fell shortly after launch, reports Interfax referring to a source in the space industry.
According to the source, it fell in Trans-Baikal area. He noted though that this is unconfirmed at the moment.
It was also reported that there could be up to 10 tons of highly toxic fuel components in the fallen stage of Proton.
“The engine of the third stage worked for only 3 minutes out of 4, so a quarter of fuel supply should have stayed in the tanks. In addition, 5 tons of the same components of fuel were in the tanks of the upper stage Breeze-M,” the source said.
Proton-M with the Mexican telecommunications satellite MexSat-1 was launched from the Baikonur space port on Saturday, May 16, at 08:47 Moscow time. The rocket and the upper stage should have brought the MexSat-1 into a geostationary orbit at apogee altitude of about 35,793 km, reported the press service of the Russian Space Agency. According to the plan, the operation was supposed to last 13 hours and 29 minutes.
Shortly after the launch announcement it was reported that approximately at the 500th second of the flight an emergency situation occurred during the work of the third stage of the launch vehicle.
According to Interfax’s source in the space industry, all launches of Proton-M are suspended until the causes of the accident are investigated, which can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. So, a launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket with a British communication satellite Inmarsat-5 F3, that was scheduled for early June, is postponed as well.
Space satellite MexSat-1 was made by American company Boeing, ordered by the Ministry of Communications and Transport of Mexico. The satellite weighs approximately 5.4 tons, it carried relay antennas of 3 ranges.