Proton-M/GLONASS destroyed in fiery launch failure


A Russian Proton-M carrying three GLONASS navigation system satellites was destroyed in spectacular fashion shortly after lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 08.32 am local time on July 2. Moments after launch the vehicle veered off course, triggering the guidance system into a maneuver that appeared to over-correct the rocket, sending it into a shallow, arcing trajectory.  

With all six RD-276 engines apparently still firing as normal, the Proton began slowly spiraling and flew horizontally for a moment before diving earthward. Seconds before impact the payload fairing and upper stage disintegrated (below)

Despite the impact and fireball no-one on the ground is thought to have been injured.

(all images Tsenki TV)

Three GLONASS satellites were previously lost in a failed launch of a Proton in December 2010. In this case a fueling error prevented the fourth stage making orbit, leading to the burn up of the vehicle over the Pacific.  

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