Status Report

COSMOS 1 Test Flight Update July 24, 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
July 24, 2001
Filed under ,

(Louis Friedman) I am back in Moscow after our launch and sub-orbital test flight of the
Cosmos 1 last Friday (July 20, Moscow time). The spacecraft was launched
successfully from the submarine Borisoglebsk in the Barents Sea, but the
Volna rocket failed to send the final command to separate the spacecraft
from the upper stage. Without separation, the spacecraft could not initiate
either its solar sail deployment sequence or the inflation sequence for the
re-entry capsule. The upper stage, spacecraft and capsule complex crashed in
the Kamchatka peninsula.

There is still a chance we might recover the spacecraft enclosed in the
re-entry capsule. Although it would not be technically useful, it would give
us a memento of a popular space organization’s first flight to space — an
achievement we, and our sponsors, are proud of. The flight accomplished
several goals, including checking out payload integration and validating
launch operations and organizational relationships for this international
space mission.

I am now meeting regularly with technical teams from the Babakin Space
Center, the Institute for Space Research (IKI) and the Makeev Rocket Bureau,
and conducting telephone meetings with our consultants in the United States.
In our discussions, we are focusing on whether to re-fly the sub-orbital
test. We have insurance covering the launch, and our final decision will be
influenced by the insurance settlement and the detailed evaluation of the
test. I hope we can make this decision within a week or two. The Russian
Space Agency will organize an official review commission to evaluate the
launch rocket’s separation command failure; we expect their report in

What is clear is that we are committed to moving forward with the orbital
mission on schedule or very close to it. Furthermore, we gained enough
experience in this sub-orbital test to allow us to proceed with payload
development for the orbital solar sail spacecraft. We have not yet
determined the precise impact of the spacecraft separation failure on the
overall mission. We have scheduled meetings in Pasadena for the week of
August 20, at which time we should be able to reach a conclusion and
announce our new flight schedule.

Many people have asked me to assess this experience. I am proud of what we
achieved with this launch; at the same time, I’m disappointed that we could
not test the solar sail deployment. Nevertheless, we learned enough to
proceed with our plan to fly the first solar sail in orbit around the Earth.
The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios are firmly committed to the Cosmos
1 Project.

Dr. Louis Friedman

Cosmos 1 Project Director

SpaceRef staff editor.