Ekspress MD2


Mission typeCommunication
OperatorRussian Satellite Communications Company[1]
COSPAR ID2012-044B[2]
SATCAT no.38745[2]
Mission durationLaunch failure
Spacecraft properties
Thales Alenia[1]
Start of mission
Launch date6 August 2012, 19:31:00 (2012-08-06UTC19:31Z) UTC
Launch siteBaikonur 81/24[3]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeMedium Earth
Geostationary planned
Longitude145° East planned[2]
Perigee altitude272 kilometres (169 mi)
Apogee altitude4,770 kilometres (2,960 mi)
Inclination49.90 degrees
Period139.09 minutes
Epoch19 December 2013, 02:16:22 UTC[4]

Ekspress MD2 is a Russian communications satellite which was lost due to a launch failure on 6 August 2012. Equipped with eight C band transponders and one L band transponder, it was intended to be located in geostationary orbit at a longitude of 145° east.[1] It was the second Ekspress MD satellite to be launched, following Ekspress MD1 in 2009.


Ground track of Ekspress MD2

Ekspress MD2 was launched atop a Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage on 6 August 2012 at 19:31 UTC. The Indonesian Telkom-3 satellite was also carried aboard the rocket. Launch occurred from Site 81/24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The first three stages of the Proton launched worked as expected and the satellites were attached to the Briz-M upper stage which would transfer them into geosynchronous orbit. The Briz-M undertakes a series of four burns with coasting stages in order to do this. The third burn was due to be 18 minutes long but the engines cut out after 7 seconds, leaving the satellites in unusable orbits.[2][5][6]

This was the second launch failure caused by a Briz-M within twelve months as Ekspress-AM4 was lost in August 2011 due to a computer error.[6] Other recent launch failures included three GLONASS satellites in 2011 and Mars probe Fobos-Grunt. All Proton-M launches were suspended and all Briz-M stages were recalled. This triggered discussion on the crisis in the Russian space industry with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev quoted as saying, "We are losing authority and billions of rubles" due to the frequent launch failures. Medvedev chaired a meeting on the issue on 14 August 2012 and President Vladimir Putin had a meeting on organisational issues. One of the suggestions is that Roscosmos could be transformed into a corporation similar to Rosatom.[5][7][8][9][10][11][12]

An investigation was set up by Roskosmos head Vladimir Popovkin and was headed by O.P. Skorobogatov from TsNIIMash. It was reported in early August by Russian newspaper Kommersant that the failure was caused by a fault in the fuel pipe in the Briz-M. The Khrunichev Failure Review Oversight Board found that it was caused by a faulty component in the pressurisation system.[6][13][14][15]

Russian president Vladimir Putin with Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin (right) and Dmitry Rogozin (left) in a meeting on problems in the space industry, August 2012

On 16 October 2012 the Briz-M exploded into eighty pieces.[16]

The director general of Khrunichev, Vladimir Nesterov, was dismissed from his post by President Vladimir Putin.[17] The first Proton-M launch following this incident was the launch of Intelsat 23 on 14 October 2012. It had been postponed from August due to the launch failure.[6][18]


  1. ^ a b c "Ekspress-MD 1, 2". Gunter's Space Page. 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  2. ^ a b c d "2012-044". zarya.info. 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  3. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  4. ^ Peat, Chris (19 December 2013). "EXPRESS MD2 - Orbit". Heavens Above. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Russian Satellite Launch Failure Leads to Proton Launch Suspension". Space Safety Magazine. 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  6. ^ a b c d "Proton Launch Failure 2012 Aug 6". zarya.info. 2012-08-20. Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  7. ^ "Medvedev to Name & Shame Failed Satellite Launch Officials". RIA Novosti. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  8. ^ "Two satellites lost: Proton rocket launch fails to deliver". RT. 2012-08-07. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  9. ^ "Medvedev says space failures cost Russia prestige and cash". Reuters. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  10. ^ "Working meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Director of the Federal Space Agency Vladimir Popovkin". Kremlin.ru. 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  11. ^ "Russia's Prime Minister Wants Space Agency Overhaul By September". Space.com. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  12. ^ "Russia Considering Roskosmos Transformation into State-Run Corporation". Satellite Today. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  13. ^ "Fuel Pipe to Blame for Proton Launch Failure - Source". RIA Novosti. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  14. ^ "Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) Concludes Investigation on Russian Federal Telkom-3/ Express MD-2 Failure". Khrunichev. 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  15. ^ Zak, Anatoly (2012-09-12). "Telkom-3/Ekspress-MD2 launch failure". Russian Space Web. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  16. ^ "SpaceTrack Data Points to Briz-M Explosion Date/Time". zarya.info. 2012-08-25. Archived from the original on 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  17. ^ "On Khrunichev CEO". Khrunichev. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  18. ^ "Intelsat 23 on its Way to Orbit after successful Proton Launch". spaceflight101. 2012-10-14. Archived from the original on 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2012-10-14.