In 2015, the British startup OneWeb agreed with the “Roscosmos” on the launch of the 672 satellites for a global broadband access to the Internet. For this purpose it was planned to use a rocket-carriers “Soyuz” with the upper stage “Fregat” — the launch of six satellites was scheduled for February 20 at 00:37 Moscow time. It seems the mission would have to wait — in the booster found crack which may cause the leakage of helium, is intended to displace the fuel.
The problem was discovered during refueling the upper stage — it is believed that the hole was formed during transportation of the unit. At the moment, will pour the oxidant and helium and weld the open seam again. This can be done directly in a report prepared for launch in Kourou (France), but for reliability block want to send to Russia, to the plant of NPO Lavochkin.
Alternatively, instead of the faulty block, you can use a spare prepared to launch British satellites O3b. Launch was scheduled for March 26, but in the case of their use in the spare “Frigate”, the mission will have to wait. If the booster with the OneWeb satellites will have to wait, then the flight will be postponed to the end of 2019. In the cancellation of the start makes no sense — the British company gave Russia an advance of a billion dollars.
In a press-service of the Roscosmos announced that it is preparing to send OneWeb satellites from Kourou is in normal mode. The Corporation says that before the launch of the rocket all discovered in the process of preparing the malfunction will be eliminated.
Recall that this is not the only case where the upper stage “Frigate” becomes a cause of problems in space missions. In 2017, the rocket “Soyuz-2.1 b” was not able to put into orbit a meteorological satellite “meteor-M” due to incorrect settings — the launch was conducted from the Baikonur “East”, but the coordinates were registered under the Baikonur.
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