Russia’s Proton-M rocket carrying three additional satellites for its Glonass global positioning and navigation network exploded shortly after launch early on Tuesday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.
The launch was broadcast live by the Rossyia 24 television.
“There was an accident during the Proton-M launch. The rocket fell and exploded on the territory of the launch site,” a spokesman for Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.
“An investigation commission headed by Roscosmos deputy head Alexander Lopatin has been set up,” the spokesman said.
A source in the Russian space industry earlier told RIA Novosti that preliminary conclusions about the possible causes of the failed launch could be ready in two-three days, but speculated that it was most likely a technical problem with the ill-fated DM-3 booster.
The source also said the launches from the Baikonur space center will be most likely suspended for the next 2-3 months as the area was contaminated by about 200 metric tons of toxic rocket fuel.
It was the second unsuccessful launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket with the DM-03 booster in the past three years.