Russia loses contact with satellite it just launched from new $1B cosmodrome

 Russia-loses-contact-with-satellite-it-just-launched-from-new-1B-cosmodrome.   MOSCOW,  Russian space officials said they have lost contact with one of the three satellites launched from the country’s new $1 billion Vostochny Cosmodrome, possibly for good.

Russia launched three satellites into space Thursday from its new cosmodrome, but lost contact with one of them. Photo courtesy Roscosmos/Twitter















The nano satellite SamSat-218 was sent into orbit April 28, one day after technical difficulties postponed the spaceport’s first launch.

The satellite has since failed to establish contact with mission control back on Earth, a space official told state-run news agency TASS.

“No radio contact with the satellite has been available since the launch time, most probably, because it failed to switch on after orbiting,” the source said.

Sources at Samara State Aerospace University, where the satellite was built by students, told Interfax the device is sending “fragmentary Morse code signals.”

“There are currently no sufficient grounds to believe the nanosatellite established contact,” Igor Belokonov, head of the project at the school, told TASS. “There were fragmentary weak signals at the frequency of 145.870 MHz against a background of noises when the nanosatellite was in the area of [radio visibility] of the ground control center, which can’t be with confidence interpreted as signals from the satellite.”

The plan to send the satellite, along with two others, into space has been plagued by difficulties and sharp rebuke from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leader traveled to Russia’s Far East region to witness the initial launch only for it to be scrapped at the last minute.

“Russia remains a leader in the number of launches, it is a fact, this is good,” a frustrated Putin told space officials afterward. “But we encounter a large number of mishaps. This is bad, and there should be a professional and prompt reaction.”

In the days after the successful launch, a construction boss on the project to build the cosmodrome, Igor Nesterenko, was sentenced to three years and three months in a labor camp for fraud. He was arrested after workers complained to Putin about unpaid wages and went on strike.

Then, on Thursday, Leonid Shalimov, director general of Russia’s Research and Production Association of Automatics — or NPO Automatics — resigned from his position. He had received a service incompetence warning ahead of the launch related to faulty wiring.

The launch was supposed to be a shining moment for the new cosmodrome, which has drawn negative focus for various problems since its construction started in 2012. The facility is not yet finished. Officials expect it to be completed sometime in 2018.

The billion dollar Vostochny Cosmodrome was built to ease Russia’s dependence on the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in what is now Kazakhstan.

By Danielle Haynes