Top Russian space officials say that the loss of two communication satellites on August 6 – when a RosCosmos Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage failed after launch – was caused by a problem with the upper stage's booster.
It took engineers at the Russian Federal Space Agency 10 days to complete the investigation, agency leader Vladimir Popovkin announced on Thursday, August 16. The RiaNovosti
news agency reports that the problem occurred during the second engine burn.
The Telkom-3 and Ekspress-MD2 communication satellites were supposed to provide TV broadcast services in Indonesia, Russian officials say. Both spacecraft were completely destroyed, authorities add.
At this point, all launches of Proton-M rockets carrying Briz-M boosters have been suspended, pending the results of a larger investigation into their safety and reliability.