News / Europe

Russia Loses $200 Million in Satellites as Launch Crashes

Watch related video of Russian rocket crashi
X
July 02, 2013 5:56 PM
A Russian booster rocket carrying three navigation satellites worth around $200 million crashed shortly after lift-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Tuesday after its engines suddenly switched off.

Watch related video of Russian rocket crash

VOA News
A Russian booster rocket carrying three navigation satellites worth around $200 million crashed shortly after lift-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Tuesday after its engines suddenly switched off.

The accident led to a large spill of heptyl, a highly toxic rocket propellant, but there were no reports of casualties or of any immediate threat to nearby settlements.

The agency quoted Kazakh Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhkov as saying the burning rocket fuel has blanketed the launch pad with a toxic cloud. He said authorities have yet to determine any potential environmental danger.

State-run Rossiya-24 TV showed footage of the Proton-M booster rocket veering off course seconds after launch. It flew horizontally and began to come apart in flames, crashing in a ball of fire near the launch pad.

Series of problems

Russian Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev, who has said that Russia has lost 10 satellites in seven failed launches in slightly more than one year, ordered tighter controls put in place to avoid more embarrassing mishaps, his spokeswoman told Interfax.

Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the accident had been caused by the emergency switch-off of the rocket's engines 17 seconds into the flight. The shutdown could have been caused by a problem with the engine or the guidance system, the state-run RIA news agency reported.

Another Proton-M booster crashed in Baikonur in August 2012 when it failed to place two satellites into orbit. The crash also echoes the costly loss of three navigation satellites in 2010, and will further damage the reputation of Russia's once-pioneering space program, cause delays in launches and threaten its hold on some 40 percent of the market for space launches.

Russian space officials have blamed the failures on manufacturing flaws and engineering mistakes.  
 
Aging space program

The Associated Press news agency quotes observers who say the problem is rooted in a post-Soviet industrial meltdown, however, that has stalled the modernization of the space industry.

Russia plans to spend more than $9.1 billion by 2020 on Glonass, its answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System [GPS] system.

The system, first conceived by the Soviet Union more than 40 years ago, has been plagued by failed launches, including one in 2010 in which three satellites were also lost, and by suspicions of corruption and embezzlement. Its chief designer was dismissed last year during a fraud investigation.

Russia's workhorse Proton rocket, known at the time under its UR-500 code, made its first test flights in the mid-1960s. It originally was 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.

Several crashes of Proton rockets accompanied by spills of heptyl have led to temporary strains in relations between Russia and Kazakhstan.

Russia is increasing spending on space and plans to send a probe to the moon in 2015, but the pioneering program that put the first man in space in 1961 has been plagued in recent years by setbacks, including botched satellite launches and a failed attempt to send a probe to a moon of Mars.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid