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Another Russian Proton-M Rocket Crashes to Earth

The video above is showing a Proton-M rocket crashing into the ground at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Monday night. This was the sixth Proton-M failure since 2011.


The rocket was supposed to carry three Russian navigation satellites into Earth's orbit, but immediately after launch some strange dark smoke leaked from one of its boosters, and then the rocket started to rotate and swerve from its regular flight path, finally ending in a enermous fireball on the Kazakh steppe. The payload was jettisoned, but there are no reports about the possible loss so far.

Also there are no immediate news reports of injuries, but a toxic cloud of rocket fuel drifted toward the city of Baikonur. Residents were told to stay indoors and close all windows.


Spaceflight Now reports:

It was 388th Proton rocket to launch since 1965 and the fifth this year, following a series of commercial missions. The program has suffered five failures in the past two-and-a-half years, mostly due to upper stage issues. Three other GLONASS satellites were lost in a botched launch in late 2010 due to a fuel miscalculation that prevented the vehicle from reaching orbit. The next launch, presumably grounded for the investigation, was slated for July 21 carrying the commercial ASTRA 2E broadcast satellite for Europe.

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I always find it remarkable that the current Soyuz rocket is a heavily upgraded version of the original rocket that launched Sputnik. Talk about a golden design.