A Proton-M launch vehicle carrying three Glonass-M satellites unexpectedly changed its flight direction some ten seconds after takeoff, started to fall and exploded over the cosmodrome.
The launch operation was broadcast live on the Russian Federal Space Agency's website.
The Proton-M crash. Source: YouTube
"The first analysis of telemetry data and video footage capturing the first few seconds of the Proton-M launch vehicle's flight allows us to presume that one of the control engines malfunctioned. Meanwhile, the propulsion engines of the rocket's first stage continued to operate until it fell down. Apparently, the systems detected a malfunction but did not switch off the propulsion engines in order to move the rocket farther from the launch site," the Baikonur Cosmodrome source said.
No casualties have been reported as yet in the Proton-M rocket crash and explosion at the Baikonur space center, a space center source told Interfax.
"According to the preliminary reports, there are no casualties or damage caused by the rocket crash," he said.
In his words, the rocket abruptly changed its trajectory and fell down at the fifth second of the flight.
The Proton-M was supposed to put into orbit three Glonass-M satellites to enlarge the navigation satellite cluster for the first time since 2011.
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