The first commercial launch of the German-Russian Eurokot venture's Rokot - the modified SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile with a Breeze M upper stage - is likely to be delayed following an accident at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome last month.

A modified Rokot booster, equipped for the first time with a Breeze M upper stage, was being prepared for a demonstration flight when the pyrotechnics, which are normally used to separate the stages in flight, fired during the countdown.

The firing caused the Breeze M stage and its satellite payload to fall from the rocket. The Rokot has made three flights from silos at the Baikonur Cosmodrome without the Breeze M.

The first launch, planned for the first quarter of this year, is to supply a replacement for troubled satellite communication company Iridium. Rokot is also due to launch Leo One Worldwide's 48-satellite constellation, six E-SAT craft and the US/German Grace satellite.

Source: Flight International