It’s been a long road, getting from there to here….
by Douglas Messier
The Russian space program reached a milestone last week: for the first time in nearly a decade, it went a full 12 months — 365 days — without a single partial or complete launch failure.
On Oct. 11 the program passed the one-year anniversary of the Soyuz MS-10 in-flight abort that sent NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin on a wild ballistic ride. Neither one was injured; both later flew to the International Space Station.
The last time Russia went more than one year between launch failures was a 14-month stretch between March 14, 2008 and May 21, 2009.
The last calendar year in which the Russian space program had a clean sheet was in 2003. They have 76 days left in 2019 to equal that feat.
The table below shows the program’s 22 failures and six partial failure over the past 15 years.
|RUSSIAN LAUNCH FAILURES, 2004 – 2019|
|1||Dec. 24, 2004||Tsiklon-3||Sich 1M, Micron 1||Partial Failure||Booster failed to circularize orbit|
|2||June 21, 2005||Molniya-M Blok-ML||Molniya-3K||Failure||Third stage failure|
|3||June 21, 2005||Volna-O||Cosmos 1||Failure||Cosmos Studios/The Planetary Society solar sail satellite failed to separate from booster third stage|
|4||August 10, 2005||Rokot Briz-KM||Cryosat||Failure||Second stage failure; crashed in Arctic Ocean north of Greenland|
|5||February 28, 2006||Proton-M Briz-M||Arabsat 4A (Badr 1)||Failure||Failed to reach usable orbit; de-orbited 24 days after launch|
|6||July 26, 2006||Dnepr||BelKa 1, Baumanets 1, Unisat 4, PicPot, CP 1, CP 2, HAUSAT 1, ICECube 1, ICECube 2, ION, KUTESat-Pathfinder, Mea Huaka’i, MEROPE, Ncube 1, Rincon 1, SACRED SEEDS, AeroCube 1||Failure||Engine failure|
|7||Sept. 5, 2007||Proton-M/Briz-M||JCSat 11||Failure||Second stage failure; booster and payload crashed in Kazakhstan|
|8||March 14, 2008||Proton-M/Briz-M||AMC 14||Partial Failure||Briz-M upper stage shut down 2 minutes early. Owner SES Americom declared satellite a complete loss. AMC 14 sold to US Department of Defense which manuevered into geosynchronous orbit using on-board thrusters.|
|9||May 21, 2009||Soyuz-2.1a/ Fregat||Meridian 2||Failure||Second stage shut down early, Fregat upper stage ran out of fuel trying to compensate. Satellite left in useless orbit, declared a loss by Russian military.|
|10||Dec. 5, 2010||Proton-M/ Blok-DM-3||Uragan-M #739, Uragan-M #740, Uragan-M #741||Failure||Rocket failed to reach orbital velocity after upper stage overfilled with propellant.|
|11||Feb. 1, 2011||Rokot/Briz-KM||Geo-IK-2 No. 11||Failure||Upper stage malfunction.|
|12||Aug. 17, 2011||Proton-M/ Briz-M||Ekspress AM4||Failure||Briz-M upper stage suffered failure of attitude control.|
|13||Aug. 24, 2011||Soyuz-U||Progress M-12||Failure||Third stage failure due to turbo-pump duct blockage.|
|14||Nov. 8, 2011||Zenit-2SB/ Fregat||Phobos-Grunt|
|Failure||Zenit placed Phobos-Grunt in proper orbit. Spacecraft stranded in Earth orbit after Fregat failed to fire.|
|15||Dec. 23, 2011||Soyuz-2.1b/ Fregat||Meridian 5||Failure||Third stage failure.|
|16||Aug. 6, 2012||Proton-M/ Briz-M||Telkom-3, Ekspress MD2||Failure||Briz-M upper stage failed 7 seconds into its third burn.|
|17||Dec. 8, 2012||Proton-M/ Briz-M||Yamal-402||Partial Failure||Briz-M upper stage shut down 4 minutes earlier than planned on fourth burn. Spacecraft reached intended orbit under own power.|
|18||Jan. 15, 2013||Rokot/Briz-KM||Kosmos 2482, Kosmos 2483, Kosmos 2484||Partial Failure||Upper stage failed near time of spacecraft separation; one satellite destroyed.|
|19||Feb. 1, 2013||Zenit-3SL (Sea Launch)||Intelsat 27||Failure||First stage failure.|
|20||July 2, 2013||Proton-M/DM-03||Uragan-M #748, Uragan-M #749,|
|Failure||First stage failure.|
|21||May 15, 2014||Proton-M/Briz-M||Ekspress AM4R||Failure||Proton third stage vernier engine failure due to turbo-pump leak.|
|22||Aug. 14, 2014||Soyuz-STB/ Fregat||Galileo FOC-1, Galileo FOC-2||Partial Failure||Satellites placed in wrong orbits due to freezing of hydrazine in Fregat upper stage. Satellites made operational as part of Europe’s Galileo navigation constellation.|
|23||April 28, 2015||Soyuz-2.1a||Progress 59P||Failure||Third stage failure left Progress in uncontrollable tumble.|
|24||May 16, 2015||Proton/Briz-M||MexSat-1||Failure||Third stage failure anomaly.|
|25||December 5, 2015||Soyuz-2.1v/ Volga||Kanopus ST|
|Partial Failure||Primary payload Kanopus ST remained attached to upper stage, later burned up in atmosphere. Secondary payload KYuA 1 deployed successfully.|
|26||December 1, 2016||Soyuz U||Progress MS-04||Failure||Third stage failure. Progress supply ship burned up in atmosphere.|
|27||November 28, 2017||Soyuz 2-1b||Meteor-M 2-1, 18 CubeSats||Failure||Fregat upper stage failure.|
|28||October 11, 2018||Soyuz FG||Soyuz MS-10||Failure||Launch anomaly resulted in emergency landing for two-member crew|