Russia lost contact with a three ton, $45 million weather satellite in November, and until recently, they struggled to figure out why. But recently, the government announced why, and it’s typically Russian: they plugged in the wrong coordinates.
On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told state TV that human error was responsible for the screw-up, according to Reuters. Only in Russia, right? The rocket was programmed as if it was taking off from a launch pad in Kazakhstan, but it took off from somewhere in the country’s far east.
“The rocket was really programmed as if it was taking off from Baikonur,” Rogozin said. “They didn’t get the coordinates right.” Reuters reports that this isn’t just a problem for Russia; it’s a problem for a fair few other countries and companies that had other satellites on board. 18 smaller satellites from countries including the US were on board and are now drifting aimlessly through space.
Human error in satellite launch is nothing new, and it’s not just a Russian problem. Japan had a $273 million satellite go lost after it disintegrated and spun out of orbit last year, and Russia’s last major launch failure was in 2015. It’s also worth mentioning that Russia’s space program had its budget slashed by 35 percent this year, but that alone doesn’t account for simply plugging in the wrong numbers.