Original story published at 07:20
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- Final probe results blame Russia's Glonass satellites loss on manufacturer
Updates Paragraph 9-12 with estimated damage and Rogozin comments.
MOSCOW, July 2 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass satellites veered off course seconds after its launch from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur space center early Tuesday, crashing in a large fireball.
“There was an accident during the Proton-M launch. The rocket fell and exploded on the territory of the launch site,” a spokesman for Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.
There were no reported casualties, but officials said a cloud of poisonous smoke was generated by the rocket’s burning fuel and could spread across the local area. An emergency evacuation of personnel at the site was underway, according to Russian media reports.
The reasons for the crash were not immediately clear, but Kazakhstan’s Emergencies Ministry said a near instantaneous failure of the rocket’s first-stage engine was to blame.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a governmental commission to be formed to look into the causes of the crash and present a list of officials responsible for the accident, said his press secretary, Natalya Timakova.
Medvedev also instructed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to draw up a list of measures to tighten oversight of the space sector and prevent such accidents in the future, Timakova said.
All Proton-M launches have been suspended until the commission completes its work, after which a new launch schedule will be drawn up, Khrunichev representative Alexander Bobrenyov said.
The next launch of a Proton-M rocket, set for July 20, was to have put into orbit the Astra 2-T satellite, he said.
Rogozin warned that heads would roll after the commission completed its work and more far-reaching measures would be taken on an organizational level.
The current shape of the space and rocket industry is unacceptable “for further movement forward,” he said.
The financial losses caused by the Proton-M crash with three Glonass satellites will be no less than 6 billion rubles ($200 million), a space industry source privy to the situation told RIA Novosti.
“The losses from the previous [failed launch with a Briz-M booster] totaled 5.4 billion. Now I believe [the figure] will be higher. The costs of both the satellites and the Proton-M have increased since then,” the source said.
It is the second unsuccessful launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket with Russia's flagship Glonass positioning system on board in the last three years, and is another setback for Moscow’s space program.
The blast-off, which took place from Baikonur at 8:38 a.m. local time, was broadcast live by Rossiya-24 television channel. Footage shows the rocket rolling while flying a wobbly arc, beginning to disintegrate as it catches fire and then slamming into the ground in a large ball of flame and black smoke. The whole flight lasted 17 seconds, according to Roscosmos.
There was 600 tons of highly toxic heptyl, amyl and kerosene rocket fuels on board, according to Talgat Musabaev, the head of Kazakhstan’s space agency.
Rain was helping to contain the poisonous smoke given off from the burning fuel, but it “might” continue to drift, said the head of Kazakhstan’s Emergencies Ministry Vladimir Bozhko. The nearest town to the launch site is about 60 kilometers (36 miles) away and is rented and administered by Russia.
Work at the Baikonur space center will probably be suspended for the next two or three months because of contamination, a source in the Russian space industry told RIA Novosti. A scheduled launch of a Progress M-20M spacecraft from Baikonur on July 27 is likely to be delayed, the source added.
A commission headed by Roscosmos deputy head Alexander Lopatin will be set up to investigate the causes of the crash, a Roscosmos spokesman said.
The financial cost of the accident is unclear, but the rocket was insured for 6 billion rubles ($182 million) with the Russian Insurance Center, according an insurance industry source.
The accident is the latest in a series of problems that have plagued Russia’s Glonass program, which was begun during the Soviet era and reinvigorated with huge cash injections in the 2000s. The Kremlin’s answer to the US’ GPS system, Glonass has also been the center of several recent corruption scandals.
The Proton-M rocket has suffered a string of technical problems and launch failures. Three Glonass satellites were lost in December 2010 when a Proton-M veered off course and crashed in the Pacific Ocean. That incident was blamed on engineers overloading the rocket with fuel, said International Launch Services, the US firm that markets commercial Proton launches.
Another Proton-M mission was unsuccessful in December 2010 after a failure in the rocket’s upper-stage Briz engine, its maker Khrunichev said. A control system glitch caused the loss of a Proton-M in August 2011, while complications with a Briz engine led to the loss of a Proton mission a year later.
The partial failure of a Briz booster on a Proton rocket in December 2012 caused the payload to be put into an incorrect orbit, which was later corrected, Roscosmos said.
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- rochefortfrancoisbla bla bla09:47, 02/07/2013This is sabotage. Nothing else.
- jgConspiracy nuts16:52, 03/07/2013Clearly this must be down to those evil Americans because nothing ever breaks in Russia, everything works and nobody in Russia has ever made a mistake. Launching spacecraft at the bleeding edge of technology with a massive quantity of dangerous chemicals is so easy, .... blah blah blah....
- tec123Why again something is more that meets the eyes here!13:37, 02/07/2013This is nothing but sabotage 100% there is a mole inside this company.
- moistThe part that failed was of...16:47, 02/07/2013..Ukrainian origin "The crash was caused by a malfunction of the first stage of the Zenith rocket, which was designed and built in Ukraine(RT)".
That pretty much sums it up. Until Ukraine joins the club and goes back to where it belong, i think it´s best Russia control all stages of the production...
But the MARS-probe was HAARP-ed.
- jg(no title)16:47, 03/07/2013"But the MARS-probe was HAARP-ed."
Funny then that ESA was able to establish partial communication with Phobos Grunt. The communications equipment appeared to be configured for deep space communication, something which should not have happened until it was en route to Mars and not while still orbiting Earth.
- tec123A moral disgrace keeps repeating itself time after time with no end in sight.19:33, 02/07/2013Dear All,
Let us take it for what it really is a lack of discipline and self worthiness, it is the same shit over and over again sad stories when the rocket fails. Its either there is a mole that is sabotaging or just plain slackness and undisciplined staff from the head to the bottom.
Sometimes Stalin was right just shoot them simple as that.
- ruypenalvaToo many launches19:57, 02/07/2013Too many launches could explain failures as a whole but the fact that two Glonass triplet launches failed in a short period or time seems to me a sabotage. But if it is caused by incompetence that is a bad news to Russia's scientists.
- WesternFascistbetter video here20:04, 02/07/2013Clearly something wrong with one of the engines.....
- LocoIvanDing! Ding! Ding!...22:32, 02/07/2013we have a winner!
'...or just plain slackness and undisciplined staff from the head to the bottom.'
The same holds true for the Phobos-Grunt space probe failure.
Phobos-Grunt failed on the ground
This failure did not emerge out of thin air. The development of the probe was long and difficult with a very checkered history. With work stepped up in 2006, the launch was first scheduled for the end of 2009. But the developers failed to keep this schedule and the launch was put off for two more years, until the fall of 2011.
The official explanation was that some units of the robot which was to pick up soil samples from the Phobos surface were not ready. Unofficially, it was quietly reported that the probe was far from finished and not ready for its mission at all, and that the design of the onboard computational facility and control system had run into formidable difficulties.
Throughout 2011 there were frequent leaks from project developers that the probe was not ready for launch in November. Popovkin admitted this indirectly after the launch, saying the risk was great but the effort worthwhile.
Commenting on the Phobos-Grunt saga, it must be noted that by that time a system-wide crisis had become apparent in the industry in all its naked indecency.
Martians or Americans could not have inflicted, or cannot inflict, more damage on the Russian space industry than it has suffered (and will continue to suffer through inertia) from purely internal reasons: failures in the personnel policy and random and irregular changes in the industry. These purely internal reasons have long been requiring the adoption of internal measures, as distinct from the time-hallowed “fund-allocation and fund-utilization” tandem formula.
Sending a five-billion ruble research project to the bottom of the Pacific because of savings on a Taiwanese microchip (or a mistake in poorly designed software) is too costly even for a leading space power, which many still call Russia out of habit.(RIANovosti;01Feb2012)
- rationalamericanStop Seeing What is Not There!20:47, 02/07/2013It wasn't sabotage you idiots. Why is it when something goes wrong, it must be a western conspiracy against Russia? Man the hell up and realize there could just be a design flaw in the M whether it is of Ukrainian origin or otherwise.
And sometimes with ROCKET SCIENCE, these things just happen. Russia is not exempt from these kinds of failures. Machines such as these are extremely complex and have such a small margin for error, a faulty bolt or heat shielding could lead to disaster.
Out of 135 Space Shuttle launches 2 have been failures with 14 casualties and no one has ever made accusations of sabotage.
There have been 4 failures out of 68 Proton M launches and there have been 0 casualties, be thankful for that.
Stop seeing what's not there and stop jumping to conspiratorial conclusions, it makes you look like delusional paranoids.
- tec123Rocket Science in disgrace.07:05, 03/07/2013Bullshit rationalamerican a lot of parts for this rocket Is made outside of Russia food for taught right? Second there are incompetent there this has cause yet another dismal shame yet again on science and Russia Putin should have the culprits shot Stalin was right in some cases.
- tec123Have these bastards shot just shoot them all start fresh!07:21, 04/07/2013Glonass Case Investigators Find New Targets
31 May 2013 | Issue 5138
The Moscow Times
The Federal Investigative Committee will examine two organizations accused of embezzling 107 million rubles ($3,3 dollars) of state finances in the development of the satellite-navigation system Glonass.
Read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/glonass-case-investigators-find-new-targets/480847.html#ixzz2YB1Ctr8v
The Moscow Times
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