Russian rocket carrying $200 mn satellites crashes

A Russian rocket carrying three navigational satellite worth $200 million crashed on Tuesday in Kazakhstan.

The rocket's engine unexpecvtedly shut down after 17 seconds into the flight and it fell some two kilometers away from the Baikonur launch pad.

A Russian TV which broadcast the laungh live showed that the rocket broke into pieces before exploding into a huge fireball.

The cause of the launch failure is yet to be cleared. Also, no casualties have been reported so far.

Meanwhile, the Interfax news agency quoted Kazakh Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhkov as saying that the burning rocket fuel has blanketed the launch pad with a toxic cloud. But he said authorities have yet to determine its potential danger to the environment.

Another Proton-M booster carrying two satellites crashed in Baikonur in August 2012. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chided officials after that incident, saying that Russia had lost 10 satellites in seven failed launches in just over a year.

Russian space officials have blamed the failures on manufacturing flaws and engineering mistakes. But observers say that the problem is rooted in a post-Soviet industrial meltdown that has stalled the modernization of the space industry.

Medvedev on Tuesday instructed Dmitry Rogozin, the point man for industry and space, to come up with a plan to tighten control of the space industry and prevent accidents like this one from happening.