Cryosat crashed

Fault in rocket launches ESA ice observation mission failed

Cryosat ESA
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The European Space Agency ESA and with it the polar and climate research have suffered a severe loss: Cryosat, the ice observation satellite of the ESA, is lost. Due to a malfunction of the Russian launcher, the satellite did not get into its intended orbit, but crashed over the northern polar region.

Everything looked so good at first: The launch of Cryosat aboard the Rockot launcher, a converted former SS-19, of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome went smoothly. The first firing stage ignited and catapulted rocket and cargo into the atmosphere. The second firing level also worked as planned. But when this stage was supposed to switch off and separate from the rocket, nothing happened.

One of the ground stations in Redu, Belgium, reported, "No signal from the satellite" and also from Kiruna in Sweden, alarming news: Obviously, the separation that one would have seen from there was not done. For the scientists who had been preparing for this crucial mission for years began banges waiting and hoping against better knowledge.

But a few hours later came the confirmation from the Russian side: The satellite was lost. Apparently, a missing command from the on-board computer was responsible for the failure to separate. Analyzes showed that rocket and satellite crashed north of Greenland near the North Pole and their remains were submerged in the Arctic Ocean.

Yuri Bakhvalov officially expressed regret on ESA Saturday, saying that a commission set up by the Russian state would further analyze the causes of the failure. It is still unclear whether the ESA ice measurement mission has finally failed, or whether a new, second satellite may be built. display

(ESA, 10.10.2005 - NPO)