Russian Proton Rocket Crashes Moments After Launch

Russian Proton Rocket Crashes Moments After Launch

UPDATE 2:  Russian media sources have confirmed the failure.   A link to a fact sheet with a list of all the Russian space launch failures since December 2010 has been added.

UPDATE:  We’ve added a link to a dramatic video of the failure posted by

Russia suffered a serious launch failure tonight when a Proton rocket crashed moments after launch.  It was carrying three GLONASS navigation satellites.

Anatoly Zak of has published photos that he reports are of the Proton as it nosedived into the ground near the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazkahstan and exploded.  The launch took place at 10:38 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) July 1, which was 8:38 am July 2 local time at the Cosmodrome. has posted dramatic video of the failure.

Russia’s ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti websites confirm the failure, but provide few details.

Russia has been suffering a surprising number of launch failures in recent years.   (Link to a fact sheet with a list of Russia’s space launch failures since December 2010.)  Many have been upper stage failures.  It is less common to have a failure moments after liftoff and this one evokes the images of the 2007 spectacular Sea Launch failure of a Zenit-3SL rocket.  That launch was from a mobile ocean platform and the debris mostly landed in the water.   Tonight’s failure was on land and damage to the launch site is a distinct possibility.   Zak tweeted (@RussianSpaceWeb), however, that the “launch team in the underground bunker [is] reportedly unharmed.”

Check back here for more news as the story develops.


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