Russia launched their Proton rocket Tuesday morning local time, carrying three satellites for the GLONASS navigation system. However, liftoff from site 81/24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome – which occurred at 02:38 UTC (08:38 local time) – ended seconds later, with a dramatic failure that resulted in a huge impact at the spaceport.
The launch occurred on time, with the Proton-M lifting off as per usual in its dramatic fashion. However, the rocket almost immediately veered to one side, before trying to correct itself, in turn sending it veering in the opposite direction.
Proton FailureThe vehicle they flew horizontal, before starting to plummet back to Earth, with its engines stiil firing. Aerodynamic stress saw the payload fairing and upper part of the rocket collapse and disintegrate before the Proton crashed back on to the pad complex.
No immediate reports of causalities have been forthcoming, although this is a concern given the close proximity the Russian engineers stage themselves, ahead of racing back to the pad less than a minute after launch.