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Russia Orders Probe of Latest Space Launch Failure

FILE - A Proton-M rocket is installed at Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan, May 13, 2014.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has ordered the formation of a special commission to probe the failed launch early Saturday of a Russian rocket carrying a Mexican satellite into space.

The probe announcement came just hours after the Proton-M rocket and its payload exploded in the skies over Kazakhstan about eight minutes after liftoff. The Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, in an early report, said a problem in the rocket's steering engines surfaced in the suborbital third stage of the launch.

Russia's Interfax news agency, quoting a Roscosmos spokeswoman, said the Medvedev probe order included instructions to determine the "exact causes" of the failed launch and to "make proposals for personal and financial accountability for this incident."

The last failed launch of a Proton-M occurred one year ago and was also found to have been caused by a problem in the rocket's third stage. There had been six subsequent successful launches before Saturday's failure.

Mexican officials said the Boeing-manufactured satellite was to have provided services for an array of government agencies, including disaster relief, rural education and other government operations. The Ministry of Communications and Transportation also said the satellite was 100 percent insured.

In a separate space failure Saturday, Roscosmos reported that the engines of a Progress space ship docked at the International Space Station failed to ignite and were therefore unable to make an adjustment to the orbit of the space station. The agency said the station's crew was not in any danger and that the failure was under investigation.