A Proton-M carrier rocket carrying a Mexican satellite malfunctioned and burned up over Siberia soon after launch on Saturday, the latest in a series of mishaps for Russia's space industry.
The third stage of the rocket carrying the MexSat-1
communications satellite suffered a problem about 500 seconds after
launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russian media quoted
Russian space officials as saying.
Russia's space agency Roscosmos subsequently said in a
statement that the satellite, booster and third stage burned up almost
entirely in the atmosphere with no evidence of anything falling to
The agency also said that the accident happened at a height of
161 kilometers (100.04 miles) and that the satellite had been insured by
of the accident was not immediately established. RIA news agency quoted
one space official as saying that all launches of carrier rockets of
this type would now be suspended.
workhorse Proton rocket, known at the time under its UR-500 code, made
its first test flights in the mid-1960s.
It was originally designed as an intercontinental ballistic
missile to carry a nuclear warhead targeting the Soviet Union's Cold War
foe the United States. But it was never deployed as a nuclear weapon.
Russia's space industry, which
pioneered space exploration with the launch of the first satellite and
put the first man into space, has been haunted by accidents which have
tarnished its reputation.
April, Russia abandoned a 2.6 billion rouble ($51 million) mission to
supply the International Space Station, (ISS), after an unmanned
Progress M-27M cargo ship, carrying almost 3 tonnes (2,722 kg) of
supplies, was unable to dock with the ISS because of problems.
In July 2013, a Proton carrier
rocket carrying three navigation satellites worth around $200 million
crashed shortly after lift-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur
Just a few
hours before Proton's crash on Saturday, the Progress M-26M spaceship
docked at the ISS failed to ignite its engines and correct the orbit of
the space outpost, Russian media reported.
of the crew are not in danger, they said.
The cause of the latest accident with the Proton rocket was
not immediately established. RIA news agency quoted one space official
as saying that all launches of carrier rockets of this type would be
corrects the distance to 161, not 181, kilometers in the fourth