Proton-M crash possibly caused by engine failure - source
"The first analysis of telemetry data and video footage capturing the first few seconds of the Proton-M launch vehicle's flight allows us to presume that one of the control engines malfunctioned. Meanwhile, the propulsion engines of the rocket's first stage continued to operate until it fell down. Apparently, the systems detected a malfunction but did not switch off the propulsion engines in order to move the rocket farther from the launch site," the source said.
The crash of a Proton-M rocket carrier at the Baikonur cosmodrome has not caused any death or damage, said the press service of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos).
"The launch pad and its personnel were not harmed. According to preliminary data, there are no victims or damage at the site on the rocket crash site," the press service said.
The crashed Proton-M rocket carried 600 tonnes of poisonous substances including heptyl, amyl and kerosene, Kazakh Space Agency chief Talgat Musabayev said.
"I have calculated that the rocket carried around 600 tonnes of heptyl, amyl and kerosene before the explosion," Musabayev said at a governemtnal meeting in Astana on Tuesday.
A toxic cloud generated by heptyl rocket fuel components has appeared over the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan following the crash of a Proton-M launch vehicle, Kazakh Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhko said.
"A smoke cloud has already appeared due to the burning of heptyl. It [the cloud] can now be seen right over the cosmodrome. According to the weather service of the Ecology Ministry, northern winds are currently blowing at a speed of 2.6 meters per second. That is why the cloud could spread beyond the premises of the cosmodrome," he said at a government session in Astana on Tuesday.
The cloud will not reach town of Baikonur, it was reported.
Almost all toxic heptyl burned out during Ptoton Rocket explosion, said Kazcosmos cheif. Rain alleviates environmental consequences of accident, he said.
A Russian Proton-M carrier rocket exploded Tuesday on takeoff at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the space agency said, the latest setback to hit the country's space programme.
"A rocket carrier fell to the ground and exploded on the territory of the cosmodrome," the Russian space agency said in a statement.
State-run Rossiya-24 television showed footage of the Proton-M booster rockets veering off course seconds after lift-off, rotating and falling apart in the air and crashing in a ball of fire near the launch pad.
Specialists were urgently evacuated from Launch Pads No. 254 and No. 2 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan following the crash of a Proton-M launch vehicle on Tuesday, a cosmodrome source said.
"A toxic cloud generated by rocket fuel components has appeared over the crash site. It is moving to the east. This circumstance prompted a personnel evacuation from the launch pads located along the movement route of the cloud," he said.
Voice of Russia, AFP, Reuters, Interfax