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Launch of Russian Proton-M carrier rocket postponed

RIA Novosti

18:18 26/12/2011

MOSCOW, December 26 (RIA Novosti) - The launch of a Russian Proton-M carrier rocket with a Dutch telecommunications satellite SES-4 (NSS-14) onboard was called off on Monday due to "technical problems", a spokesman for the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center said.

He said the new date for launch was being discussed. He did not elaborate on the cause of the delay.

The launch would have been the 70th commercial launch of a Proton carrier rocket since 1995 and the 10th launch of this type of carrier rocket this year.

The SES-4 satellite, built by U.S. company Space Systems/Loral for the Dutch operator Ses World Skies, is designed to provide various satellite services to customers in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

Russia has experienced a number of launch mishaps in the past 13 months, including the crash of a Meridian dual purpose satellite shortly after take-off last week.

That incident led the head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency to say the industry was "in crisis."

The rocket failures come on top of the loss of Phobos-Grunt, Russia's most ambitious planetary mission in decades. It became stuck in Earth orbit after its launch in November and is expected to fall back to Earth in mid-January.

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