Further Details on Abortive Launch

Moscow INTERFAX 6 Apr 95

MOSCOW, April 6 (Interfax) -- The abortive launch of the Russian-built Start booster carrying three satellites on March 28 was caused by a premature shutdown of the engine of the 4th stage, Head of the State Investigation Commission Yuriy Yashin told a news conference in Moscow Thursday [6 April]. It was found that the control system had sent a shutdown signal 12 seconds ahead of the calculated time and failed to switch on the fifth stage. Developed for the Start booster, the new command system is not employed in a military Topol missile used as the basis for the new delivery vehicle. Head of Moscow-based Kompleks Designers Yuriy Solomonov said that despite the setback, it is now known that military ballistic missiles could be converted for civilian use. He said none of the 10 countries including the United States, Germany and Australia had walked out on contracts on commercial satellite launches with the help of Start boosters. As an example, Solomonov pointed to a contract with the Swedish Space Corporation for the launch of 250-kilogram Odin satellite for radio astronomy studies in 1997 which remains in force. More importantly, Kompleks struck a number of other similar deals in the past week. Solomonov did not rule out the possibility of a renewed launch of the Start booster with Israeli and Mexican-built satellites (lost on March 28) for what he described as moral reasons rather than contract commitments. He put the number of successful Topol launches at more than 400 saying that one abortive attempt could hardly dent the booster's prestige.