The return-to-flight launch of the Proton rocket has been rescheduled for 30 September from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The launch had earlier been delayed from 15 September due to a technical problem with the first stage.
An additional delay was added “to accommodate a joint review by the Russian and Kazakhstan Government to address environmental and safety concerns,” according to International Launch Services, which markets the rocket to customers. “We agree that undertaking this review is a prudent precautionary measure.”
Proton was grounded following a 2 July mishap during a Russian government mission, when the rocket crashed immediately after lift-off and caused the evacuation of a nearby town over concerns of toxic smoke. The crash was traced to an incorrectly installed angular sensor.
Despite the July incident, the joint safety review is as likely political as practical: Kazakhstan, once a part of the Soviet Union, has been pushing for greater per-launch payments and using the launch site for political leverage.
The mission is to be the 388th launch attempt for the vehicle, lofting the Astra-2E communications satellite.
Source: Flight International