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Home » Diplomacy News, Russia, Ukraine, and Caucasus

Russians Will Launch a Mexican Satellite into Space

Submitted by on March 14, 2012 – 1:38 am |  
In the early days of the space explorations, the two superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union – were pitted against each other, but more recently, collaborative space enterprises have become the new norm. On March 11, 2012 International Launch Services (ILS), a U.S. company incorporated in the state of Delaware but a subsidiary of the Russian Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, has signed a contract with the Ministry of Communications and Transportation of Mexico to launch the first Mexican communications satellite, MEXSAT-1, expected in 2013-2014. The satellite will be built by the U.S.-based Boeing Satellite Systems and launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) east of the Aral Sea. The Baikonur Cosmodrome is managed jointly by the Russian Space Forces (a branch of Russian military) and the civilian government agency Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos).

Roskosmos has recently been plagued by a series of disasters. In December 2010, it lost three satellites, which were part of the GLONASS program, a radio-based satellite navigation system operated for the Russian government by the Russian Space Forces, which both complements and provides an alternative to the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS) system. In February 2011 the Russians lost a military satellite Geo‑IK-2, and in August of the same year a telecommunications satellite, Express-AM4, went down. That year ended with a loss of yet another satellite, Meridian, which fell from the sky near Novosibirsk only 20 minutes after the launch. 2012 started inauspiciously as well, with an uncontrolled re-entry of Fobos-Grunt on January 15, reportedly over Pacific Ocean west of Chile. This spacecraft took 15 years and several billion dollars to develop. The head of Roskosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, has blamed the failures of Roskosmos on the lack of modernization as well as on brain-drain which leads to the lack of junior and mid-career personnel in the industry. In a curious twist of events, Popovkin was hospitalized in the chief military hospital in Moscow on March 11, 2012. According to a Roskosmos press-release, this hospitalization is due to “physical and mental overexertion due to frequent business trips and jetlag”. However, some media outlets report that he presented to the hospital intoxicated, accompanied by an unknown woman, and with lacerations on his scalp and a concussion.


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