Environment impact study continues at Russian rocket crash site

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MOSCOW, July 29 (RIA Novosti) - Analysis of the environmental situation at a site in Kazakhstan where a Russian carrier rocket crashed Thursday morning continues while the final results will be announced Monday, the space agency said.

The Dnepr carrier rocket crashed shortly after liftoff from the Baikonur space center due to a first stage engine shutdown. The wreckage was discovered at 8:05 Moscow time (4:04 a.m. GMT), 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the space center on a steppe, a long distance from any residential buildings.

Igor Panarin, the Federal Space Agency's press secretary, said maximum permissible concentration of noxious substances was only exceeded within a 1 km radius around the crash site.

He said earlier a crater at the site of the crash proved that spontaneous ignition had occurred and that combustion products were low toxic.

The Dnepr, a civilian version of the heavy R-36M2 Voyevoda (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missile, was launched around midnight Wednesday (8 p.m. GMT), and would have orbited 18 Russian and foreign-made mini-satellites.

Kazakhstan's presidential representative at Baikonur, Adilbek Basekeyev, said specialists were examining the crash site from helicopters and planes.

"There are no casualties, the rocket fell in a deserted place," he said.

Kazakh Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov signed a resolution Thursday on forming a government commission to investigate the consequences of the crash.

Russia has been using converted ballistic missiles to launch satellites into orbit since 1999. The Dnepr, which was seen as a highly reliable carrier rocket, has a lift-off weight of about 250 metric tons and can carry a satellite payload of up to 3.7 tons to orbits at an altitude of 300-900 kilometers (185-560 miles).

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