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  sci-tech > space > story pagecorner  

Russian rocket explodes after liftoff

Incident likely to delay International Space Station

October 27, 1999
Web posted at: 6:19 p.m. EDT (2219 GMT)

graphic From Space Correspondent Miles O'Brien

(CNN) -- An unmanned Russian Proton carrier rocket exploded six minutes after liftoff Wednesday, completely destroying the rocket and its payload. The accident is likely to further delay the launch of a key Russian component of the International Space Station.

The Russian space agency formed a state commission to investigate the accident, the second failure of a Proton rocket in three months.

The rocket apparently failed when the second stage of the three-stage Proton fired. It was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

On July 5, another Russian communications satellite was destroyed when the second stage on that Proton rocket failed after pieces of metal were sucked into the engine's thruster. Following a two-month investigation, the Russian Space Agency declared the Proton fit to fly.

Proton rockets were successfully launched September 6 and September 26.

The Russian-built Zvezda, a key command and control component of the space station that also will serve as temporary crew quarters, had been scheduled for launch on a similar Proton rocket sometime between December 26 and January 16.

NASA officials in Houston now see that launch window target as highly doubtful.

Construction of the station, whose first components are already orbiting Earth, is expected to take five years.

The project is a joint venture of 16 countries including the United States and Russia and has been delayed repeatedly.

Copyright 1999 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CNN - Technology - U.S. satellite launched on Russian rocket - September 27, 1999
CNN - Technology - Russia launches first Proton rocket after ban - September 7, 1999
CNN - Kazakhstan halts Russian space launches after crash - July 6, 1999

Energia Ltd.
Russian Space Agency

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