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Report: Russian space rocket breaks apart after launch

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The rocket had veered off path, causing an emergency system to cut off propulsion
  • It was carrying a communications satellite into orbit and was about 100 miles high
  • It burned up in the atmosphere, but some small fragments could fall to Earth

(CNN) -- A Russian space rocket launch went sour Friday, destroying the booster and its payload, Russian state media said.

Nine minutes after the Proton-M rocket lifted off in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Friday, officials on the ground lost contact with the it, ITAR-Tass reported, citing an official from Russia's Federal Space Agency.

The rocket had veered off path, causing an emergency system to cut off propulsion.

The rocket, which was carrying a communications satellite into orbit, was about 100 miles high into its ascent at the time and burned up in the atmosphere, the agency reported.

But the agency also said that part of the rocket could be in a "non-intended orbit" and small pieces could fall down to Earth.

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission put the first humans on the moon. Neil Armstrong famously commemorated his first steps on the moon by saying, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Click through the gallery to see other milestones in space exploration. And go inside "The Space Race" on "The Sixties," Friday, July 25, at 9pET and Saturday, July 26, at 10p ET. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission put the first humans on the moon. Neil Armstrong famously commemorated his first steps on the moon by saying, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Click through the gallery to see other milestones in space exploration. And go inside "The Space Race" on "The Sixties," Friday, July 25, at 9pET and Saturday, July 26, at 10p ET.
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Friday's mishap marks the second time a Proton rocket has destructed after liftoff within a year and is one in a series of failures.

In July, an unmanned Proton rocket exploded after liftoff over Kazakhstan.

In 2010, another Proton-M rocket carrying three satellites crashed in the Pacific Ocean.

And in 1999, a Proton rocket exploded six minutes after liftoff, destroying the rocket and its payload.

The Russian Federation is known for its active space program; it carried out more than 30 space launches last year, according to a Russian media report.

It was a Russian Proton rocket that placed the first piece of the International Space Station, the Zarya module, into orbit in 1998.

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