Russia’s carrier rocket explodes on takeoff at cosmodrome

A+
A
A-

A Proton-M rocket, carrying a European SES-6 communications satellite, blasts off from the Russian leased Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome on June 3, 2013. AFP/STR

MOSCOW – An unmanned Russian Proton-M carrier rocket exploded Tuesday on takeoff at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, in images broadcast live on national television.

Spectacular footage showed the rocket veering off its trajectory just seconds after its 6.38 a.m. (0238 GMT) launch, before erupting into a ball of flames and releasing highly toxic rocket fuel into the air.

The Russian space agency Roskosmos, citing preliminary information, said the accident caused no damage or casualties.

“It seems something is going wrong,” said a television commentator during the live coverage of the launch. “Something is wrong. It seems it will be a catastrophe,” said the presenter, his voice trembling.

The rocket then exploded, sending plumes of black smoke into the morning sky.

The rocket was supposed to take three Glonass-M satellites into space.

“A rocket carrier fell to the ground and exploded on the territory of the cosmodrome,” the space agency said in a statement, adding the rocket fell on the territory of the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The agency said that during the accident, which took place 10-15 seconds after takeoff, toxic rocket fuel was released into the air.

A Roskosmos spokesman could not immediately say whether people living near the crash site were being evacuated.

Russia has suffered several recent setbacks in its space programme, notably losing expensive satellites and an unmanned supply ship to the International Space Station.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94