An unmanned rocket carrying an ASTRA 2E satellite on board blasted off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Monday (September 30). (Courtesy: RTV/International Launch Services/CBS)
Russia's Proton-M booster rocket has failed and broken apart during a test launch, just months after a shake-up in the country's space agency that was meant to boost its dented image.
The rocket, carrying a communications satellite, was launched early Friday but stopped functioning 160 kilometers (100 miles) above the earth, Roskosmos said in a statement. The agency said it is investigating the cause of the failure and that the rocket totally disintegrated in space, meaning no fragments will fall to earth.
Friday's incident is the second mishap with the Proton-M rocket, which previously burst into flames and crashed after launch. In October, Russia replaced the Roskosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin, who had failed to deliver on promises to improve manufacturing standards and quality checks, with Deputy Defense Minister Oleg Ostapenko.