Delays, Insurance Hikes Caused by Failed Russian Launch of Mexican Satellite

Latin American Herald Tribune | May 26, 2015

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MEXICO CITY – The failed launch of Mexico’s Centenario satellite is a setback for the spacecraft launch schedule and will spark a huge hike in insurance costs, while also discrediting Russian space technology, specialists told Efe.

“Insurance costs will go through the roof and will make satellite launches more expensive. And it will be governments and users that feel the pain – because someone has to pay for it,” said Slava Frayter, vice president for the Americas of the Newtec satellite communications company.

The trade director of Media Networks for Latin America, Leandro Gaunszer, also spoke of the “impact” on the value of insurance policies, and added another important factor: “Because launches are delayed” it affects “the entire chain” of space operations.

Last May 16 a failure in the Russian carrier missile Proton-M, as it was taking the Centenario into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, caused the disintegration of the satellite soon after lift-off.

The Centenario, with a cost of $390 million (351 million euros), was part of the Mexsat system, made up of the fixed communications satellite Bicentenario and the twin satellites for mobile communications, Centenario and Morelos 3.

Over the past five years there have been six failures in the launches of Proton rockets, as well as errors during operations of the Zenit rocket in 2013 and problems with the expendable cargo spacecraft Progress.

The CEO of the Euroconsult firm specializing in the space market, Pacome Revillon, admitted that this is a high-risk industry and was very positive about Mexico’s decision to launch the Morelos 3 in October and do it with total insurance, in order to mitigate the risks.

Meanwhile Frayter, of Russian origin, said that Russia is taking steps to correct past failures and “is investing in new designs and development,” though it suffers from an even greater problem: corruption.