Faulty rocket leaves Turks lost for words

TURKEY'S aim of uniting the Turkic nations received another setback when the French Ariane rocket failed to launch its first satellite.

Turksat 1A was to have served Turkey, central Europe and central Asia, providing 22 television channels and radio, as well as for telephone, telex and other such transmissions. It also was destined for military use. It would have covered the main areas of Turkic-speakers - 2 million in Europe, 60 million in Turkey and 50 million in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Following Ariane's failure on Monday to launch Turksat 1A and another communications satellite, insurance companies in Europe and the United States are facing the biggest space-related loss in their history. The satellites were worth a total of dollars 350 (pounds 235m). About dollars 30m had been privately insured by the launch company, Arianespace, while the rest of the losses will be sustained by Lloyd's and insurers in France, Germany, Italy and the US. Jean Fournier, of the brokers Faugere et Jutheau, who handled the business, said: 'Virtually everyone was in on this deal. This launch was the largest ever insured.'

In Arianespace's 63rd launch, the Ariane 4 rocket took off on schedule from the Kourou space centre, French Guiana. The third-stage engines fired six minutes later but shut down at an altitude of 200km (124 miles); the rocket plunged into the Atlantic.

Turksat was just one of the projects started by Turkey to improve relations between speakers of Turkic languages since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ariane's failure was an especially bitter blow. Many of Turkey's projects for a kind of Turkic commonwealth have proved hard to realise, although airlines, businessmen and schools have been slowly building links.

The most pro-Turkish government, in Azerbaijan, was ousted last year. Resurgent Russian nationalism is restricting the new republics' freedom of action. A summit of Turkic states due to be held last weekend was postponed because of bad organisation and differences between the states themselves.

Mehmet Kostepen, Turkey's Communications Minister wept as he watched the abortive launch in French Guiana. But he insisted all was not lost: another Turkish satellite is to be launched in July.

This week's mishap was the sixth failure for the European commercial satellite-launch company since its first lift-off on 24 December 1979. Its last failure was four years ago, on 23 February 1990. Arianespace has dominated the world's commercial space lift-offs, chalking up more than 50 per cent of orders.

Despite the setback, Mr Fournier said Arianespace launches had been good business for the insurance industry: premium income since the failure of February 1990 had exceeded dollars 800m, which would still leave insurers with a healthy profit even after this week's losses had been accounted for.

Last year Arianespace had a turnover of nearly 5bn French francs (pounds 580m); it has orders for 35 more launches, worth 15bn francs. However, the failure comes at an unfortunate moment: next week the Japanese national space agency is to launch its first H-II rocket, intended as a direct competitor to Ariane.

Experts are focusing on the possibility that Monday's disaster was caused by a breakdown in the turbo-pump delivering liquid oxygen to the third-stage engines.

The third stage, which was manufactured by the French company Aerospatiale, is fuelled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen. 'No conclusion has yet been reached. The experts continue to study the problem. But their investigation is directed at this hypothesis - that is to say, the stopping of the turbo-pump after 90 seconds of operation,' one source said.

Eutelsat, the other orbiter that was lost on Monday, was the latest in a series of seven European satellites used for television, telephone and other services on the European continent.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'