An unmanned Russian rocket carrying an advanced telecommunications satellite failed to reach its designated orbit and crashed shortly after its launch on Friday.
The Proton-M type booster rocket was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0142 Moscow time (2142 GMT on Thursday) but an “emergency situation” prevented it going into orbit, Russian space agency Roscosmos said.
Russian media said the problem arose with the third stage about nine minutes into the flight at a height of about 150 km (94 miles), and parts of the satellite fell into the Pacific Ocean or were scattered over Siberia and Russia’s Far East.
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No casualties or other damage were reported.
The Express-AM4R satellite which was being carried into orbit is the most advanced telecommunications satellite used by Russia, designed to provide affordable Internet access to people in remote parts of the country, Russian media reports said.
The cost of the satellite’s loss was not immediately clear.
It was the first major accident involving a Proton-M rocket since last July, when three navigation satellites worth about $200 million were lost when the engines failed.
That accident strained relations between Kazakhstan and Russia, which are close political and trade allies, and Kazakhstan imposed a temporary ban on all Proton launches from its territory.
Moscow’s Rossiya-24 television said all launches had been suspended from Kazakhstan after Friday’s launch.