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Russian Rocket Fails to Reach Target Orbit

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press
Russia

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, the Zenit-2SB rocket with the Phobos-Ground probe blasts off from its launch pad at the Cosmodrome Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Some of the recent failures of Russian spacecraft may have been caused by hostile interference, Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said. Popovkin made the comment when asked about the failure of the unmanned Phobos-Ground probe, which was to explore one of the Mars twin moons, Phobos, but became stranded while orbiting Earth after its Nov. 9 launch. The spacecraft is expected to fall to Earth around Jan. 15. ( (AP Photo/File)

Russia's federal space agency says an unmanned rocket and its payload of two communications satellites failed to reach orbit, the latest in a series of failures that has dogged Moscow's space program.

Roscosmos said Tuesday that a secondary booster module of the Proton-M rocket carrying Russian and Indonesian satellites switched off earlier than expected minutes after late Monday's takeoff from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Last August, Russia lost contact with a communications satellite shortly after a Proton-M launch. In 2007, a Proton-M carrying a Japanese communications satellite crashed.

Roscosmos spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov told the Itar Tass news agency Tuesday that Roscosmos might halt Proton-M launches after an investigation.

The 50-meters (165-feet) long booster with a payload of up to 20 metric tons has been in use since 1965.


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