MOSCOW – Russia has lost communication with a newly-developed military satellite after it apparently failed to separate from the booster rocket after its launch, a source in the country’s air and space forces told TASS state news agency on Monday.
“The spacecraft is recognised as lost since it is impossible to use it according to its purpose,” the source said, adding that a repeat attempt to separate the satellite from the upper-stage rocket was unsuccessful. A Soyuz-2.1B rocket carrying two satellites blasted off from Plesetsk cosmodrome on Saturday.
On Sunday, RIA Novosti state news agency reported that one of the two satellites had apparently not separated from the upper-stage rocket, citing a source in the space industry. The lost satellite called Kanopus-ST, named after the star Canopus, is both for civilian and military use, reported Kommersant business daily, citing sources in the space industry.
It was developed to scan the Earth’s oceans and weather systems from space including spotting submarines for the military. The satellite took 10 years to develop and was considered highly promising. A member of the commission set up to investigate the incident told Kommersant that the problem appeared to be with the attachment of the upper-stage rocket to the satellite, which did not open up on time.
The satellite will fall back to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere in the next two or three days, a source told Kommersant. Moscow has not yet officially commented on the space incident.