Russia on February 1 launched a high-tech Geo-IK-2 craft to help the
military draw a three-dimensional map of the Earth and locate the
precise positions of various targets.
News reports said the satellite was a vital part of Russia’s effort to
match the United States and NATO’s ability to target its missiles from
But the craft briefly went missing after its launch only to re-emerge in
a wrong orbit that left the craft unable to complete its assigned task.
The Russian military and space agency set up a joint task force to probe
the accident but it has presented no official results thus far.
One unnamed space official told Interfax however that initial evidence
suggested that the craft went off target after one of its booster
rockets inexplicably reversed course.
“The probable cause may involve electromagnetic intrusion on the automatic controls,” the unnamed space official said.
The space official conceded that there may have been other reasons for
the launch failure. These included the wrong operations being programmed
into the guidance system and other software mistakes.
But the Russian source stressed that the accident occurred between the
first and second burns of the Briz-KM upper-stage booster rocket — an
area in which the craft makes no contact with ground control.
The official suggested that the electromagnetic pulse may have been
aimed at the Russian craft “from a land, sea, air or space vehicle.”
The Geo-IK-2 mishap came less than five weeks after President Dmitry
Medvedev fired two top space officials for a launch failure caused
Russia to delay the deployment of its own navigation system.
Investigators said that accident was caused by a basic fuel
miscalculation that made the craft too heavy to reach its required
The three Glonass satellites would have completed a system whose research had been started by the Soviet Union in 1976.