Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Six Russian satellites lost as rocket fails
Updated: December 28, 2000

A Ukrainian-made Tsyklon 3 rocket loaded with six Russian communications satellites failed to reach orbit after blasting off Wednesday, according to news reports from Moscow. The launch occurred at approximately 1900 GMT (2 p.m. EST) from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia.

The three-stage rocket, provided by NPO Yuzhnoye, was to place the six small spacecraft into Earth orbit. The craft were based upon the Strela 3-satellite design, with three being used by the Russian military and three for civil purposes.

According to the Interfax news agency the exact cause of the accident is not known but the fault appears to be with the rocket's third stage. The first and second stages worked according to plan.

The third stage and the six satellites are believed to have burned up over the East Siberian Seas, a spokeswoman for the Plesetsk space center told the news agency.

Interfax reported Tuesday that a government commission had given final approval for the launch after determining that the rocket, ground systems and trajectory calculations were ready. The rocket was set up on the launch pad on Wednesday and fueled, the report said.