Saturday, May 16, 2015

Russian Proton-M Rocket Crashes In Siberia

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan --  Portions of a Russian Proton-M rocket delivering a Mexican communications satellite have crashed in Siberia on Saturday.

According to the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, a malfunction of the third stage engine booster was detected 497 seconds after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at an altitude of 161 kilometers (100 miles). The rocket's third stage, upper stage and the spacecraft were almost completely burned up in the atmosphere, Roscosmos said in statement. The total amount of debris that did not burn up and landed back on Earth has yet-to-be-determined. 

The MexSat-1 communications satellite is one of three satellites that would comprise a billion-dollar communications system built by Boeing under contract for the Mexican Government. The satellite and its launch are insured by the customer. Any third party liability is insured by the Russian side of the contract, according to Roscosmos.  

Russia's heavy-lift rocket, the Proton-Mt, has had 11 failures out of a total 116 launches in its 15 year history. The last Proton-M failed launch occurred in May 2014 which appears to be similar to today's failure.

Image Credit: Roscosmos via Twitter.