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Toxic vapor leak discovered at Russia’s space booster in French Guiana

Toxic vapor leak discovered at Russia’s space booster in French Guiana
A toxic vapor leak was detected coming from the Russian Fregat upper-stage rocket which is stored at the space center in French Guiana. It was supposed to deliver satellites, but the operation was halted over the coronavirus.

The oxidizer vapor detection system at the booster’s storage facility began giving sporadic alarm signals a week ago, the press-service of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said.

A group of experts from the makers of the rocket at NPO Lavochkin and other Russian space industry firms are getting ready to make the journey to French Guiana, which borders Brazil and Suriname. They’re expected to arrive at the Guiana Space Center some time during “the first ten days of June” to evaluate the situation on the ground and eradicate the problem.

The leak poses no danger to the staff of the space center or the environment as Fregat is being stored in a facility equipped in accordance with all international standards, Roscosmos pointed out. 

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Fregat was intended to be used to deliver UAE’s Falcon Eye-2 satellite to orbit, but the launch was delayed as the Guiana Space Center put its operations on hold in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The fuel was removed from the tanks of the booster, with some 250 Roscosmos employees returning home to Russia for the break. The launch is reportedly rescheduled for October 1 this year.

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