Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cosmos-1 not in orbit?

After a night to reflect on the data, the Russian Space Agency (RKA) is now reporting that is that the launch vehicle failed 83 seconds into liftoff, and that the second stage of the rocket didn't separate.

This seems to contradict the data obtained from the tacking stations so it is still unclear as to the fate of Cosmos-1. If the spacecraft did achieve orbit it is possible that in four days the autonomous onboard systems will, since they have not had any contact with the ground, proceed to unfurl the sails. Since this will make Cosmos-1 a naked eye object from the ground it will vastly improve the chances of reacquiring contact with the satellite. However this is a low probability event, and it is now more likely that the spacecraft has been lost. The Planetary Society team is still hopeful, but as time passes that hope has to be rapidly diminishing.

Update: Hopefully Slashdot is being a bit quick off the mark in announcing the failure of the mission. But only time will tell...

Update: CNN has video of the launch along with the background story...

Captures from the CNN coverage of Cosmos-1 launch

Update: According to Engadget the Russian Navy are reportedly retrieving debris from the launch. If true, what on Earth is going on with the tracking data from Kamchatka, Majuro and Panska Ves?

Update: The Times seems to confirm that the Russians, at least, now believe the spacecraft to be lost...