Ekspress MD2


Mission typeCommunications
OperatorRussian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) [1]
COSPAR ID2012-044B [2]
SATCAT no.38745
Mission duration10 years (planned)
Failed on orbit (achieved)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeEkspress-MD
BusYakhta modified
ManufacturerKhrunichev (bus)
Alcatel Alenia Space (payload) [1]
Launch mass1,140 kg (2,510 lb)
Power1300 watts
Start of mission
Launch date6 August 2012, 19:31:00 UTC [3]
RocketProton-M / Briz-M
Launch siteBaikonur, Site 81/24
ContractorKhrunichev State Research and Production Space Center
Entered serviceFailed on orbit
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit [4]
RegimeMedium Earth orbit
Geostationary orbit (planned)
Longitude145° East (planned) [2]
Perigee altitude272 km (169 mi)
Apogee altitude4,770 km (2,960 mi)
Period139.09 minutes
Band9 transponders:
8 × 40 Mhz C-band
1 × 1 Mhz L-band
Bandwidth321 MHz
Coverage areaRussia, CIS countries

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 1 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 launch vehicle with a Briz-M upper stage on 6 August 2012 at 19:31:00 UTC. The Indonesian Telkom-3 satellite was also carried aboard the launch vehicle. 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 on 8 November 2011. 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]


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.

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]

The first Proton-M launch following this incident was the launch of Intelsat 23 on 14 October 2012. It had been postponed from August 2012 due to the launch failure.[6][16] On 16 October 2012, the Briz-M exploded into eighty pieces.[17] The director general of Khrunichev, Vladimir Nesterov, was dismissed from his post by President Vladimir Putin.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "Ekspress-MD1, -MD2". Gunter's Space Page. 17 December 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "2012-044". zarya.info. 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  3. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  4. ^ Peat, Chris (19 December 2013). "Express-MD2". Heavens Above. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Russian Satellite Launch Failure Leads to Proton Launch Suspension". Space Safety Magazine. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "Proton Launch Failure 2012 August 6". zarya.info. 20 August 2012. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Medvedev to Name and Shame Failed Satellite Launch Officials". RIA Novosti. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Two satellites lost: Proton rocket launch fails to deliver". RT (TV network)]]. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Medvedev says space failures cost Russia prestige and cash". Reuters. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Working meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Director of the Federal Space Agency Vladimir Popovkin". eng.kremlin.ru. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  11. ^ "Russia's Prime Minister Wants Space Agency Overhaul By September". SPACE.com. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Russia Considering Roskosmos Transformation into State-Run Corporation". Satellite Today. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  13. ^ "Fuel Pipe to Blame for Proton Launch Failure". RIA Novosti. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) Concludes Investigation on Russian Federal Telkom-3/ Express MD-2 Failure". Khrunichev. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  15. ^ Zak, Anatoly (12 September 2012). "Telkom-3/Ekspress-MD2 launch failure". RussianSpaceWeb.com. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  16. ^ "Intelsat 23 on its Way to Orbit after successful Proton Launch". Spaceflight101.com. 14 October 2012. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  17. ^ "SpaceTrack Data Points to Briz-M Explosion Date/Time". zarya.info. 25 August 2012. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  18. ^ "On Khrunichev CEO". Khrunichev. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.