In 2015, a British startup OneWeb agreedwith Roscosmos on the launch of 672 satellites to create a global broadband Internet access. For this purpose, it was planned to use the Soyuz launch vehicles with the Fregat upper stage - the launch of six satellites was scheduled for February 20 at 00:37 Moscow time. It seems that the mission will have to be postponed - a crack has been discovered in the upper stage, which can cause leakage of helium intended for displacing fuel.
A problem was found during refueling.overclocking block - it is believed that a hole was formed during the transportation of the block. At the moment, it is planned to pour out oxidizer and helium from it and weld the dispersed joint anew. This can be done directly in the Kourou cosmodrome (France) prepared for launch, but for reliability they want to send the unit to Russia, to the plant of the Lavochkin Scientific Production Association.
Alternatively, instead of a faulty block, you canuse the spare, which is prepared to launch the British satellites O3b. Their launch was to take place on March 26, but if they are used in the reserve Frigate, the mission will have to be postponed. If the OneWeb satellite launch vehicle is forced to wait, the flight will be postponed to the end of 2019. There is no point in canceling the launch - a British company gave Russia an advance of one billion dollars.
The press service of "Roskosmos" announced thatpreparation for sending OneWeb satellites from the Kourou space center is proceeding normally. The corporation assures that before the launch of the launch vehicle, all defects detected during the preparation process will be eliminated.
Recall that this is not the only case wherethe “Fregat” overclocking unit causes problems in space missions. In 2017, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket was unable to put the Meteor-M meteorological satellite into orbit due to improper tuning - the launch was carried out from the Vostochny cosmodrome, but the coordinates were registered under Baikonur.
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