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Failed Russian Rocket Launch Ends With Explosive Fireball [VIDEO] : Space : Nature World News

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No casualties or damage in surrounding settlements were reported as a result of the Proton-M rocket exploding, but Russian media reports indicate the explosion created a cloud of poisonous smoke generated by the rocket's highly toxic heptyl propellant.

Proton rockets used to send satellites into orbit have failed before, including a 2010 crash that also destroyed three satellites. The most recent failure was in December 2012 when the Proton rocket launched communications satellites into the wrong orbit, according to

Russian Unicorn

The rocket system's design is of the Cold War era, when the system was originally conceived, though never deployed, as an intercontinental ballistic missile to carry a nuclear warhead targeted for the United States, Reuters reported.

I want a robot unicorn rocket. So bad.

Btw, something exploded.

It did?

The rocket was carrying 600 tons of highly toxic heptyl, amyl and kerosene fuel, which were spilled when the booster was destroyed, Russian news service Ria Novosti reported. The burning fuel gives off a poisonous smoke, but officials said the cloud was being partially contained by rain at the launch site.


The Proton-M rocket was insured for 6 billion rubles ($182 million) with the Russian Insurance Center, according to Ria Novosti.

The three satellites onboard the rocket were intended to join the Glonass navigation network, Russia's counterpart to the United States' GPS system. Glonass, however, has been plagued with problems, including the loss of three satellites in December 2010 when another Proton rocket failed during launch. And during a fraud investigation last year, the Glonass network's chief designer was dismissedamid corruption and embezzlement accusations.

An investigation into yesterday's accident is underway, but early reports suggest a problem in the rocket's engine or guidance system may have caused the emergency engine shutdown, Reuters reported.

This was the fifth major Proton rocket launch failure since December 2010, with the most recent in December 2012, when a Proton booster launched a telecommunications satellite into the wrong orbit.

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