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  Russian rocket fails--but is this bad?May 19, 2015 1:06 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Over the weekend a Russian rocket malfunctioned; this one was attempting to carry a Mexican telecommunications satellite into orbit. It's the sixth Proton to be lost in the last five years, which sounds bad, but how bad is it? 100 Proton-M rockets have been launched since the model's introduction in 2001, and of those 100, 10 have failed—but most of those failures have come in just the past five years, which makes sense because more launches have been taking place per year of late: just over 10 per year in the last five years (52 total).
 
Is a ~10% loss record bad as far as rocket launches go? Well, in the '80s, out of ~104 launches of their Proton-K rockets, the Soviet Union lost just 7. To compare with the US in that same period, 5 of 42 Atlas rocket launches failed. So a loss rate of ~10% for the Proton-M is actually pretty decent, comparatively—it looks even better when we see that over its lifetime, the earlier Proton-K lost 35 out of 311 launches. The second BBC article I linked *does* mention that other Proton-M launches have been grounded due to maintenance issues, but I don't have stats or comparative stats for those (and I'm not going to try to find them since I have to go to bed : P)—at any rate, we can say that as far as actual *launches* go, the Proton-M isn't really doing too badly!
 
 
 
 
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