BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Russian space rocket explodes
Russian Soyuz rocket
The Soyuz-U is said to have no accidents for 11 years
An unmanned Russian space rocket carrying a satellite into orbit has exploded shortly after blast-off, killing one person and injuring eight others.

The Soyuz-U rocket blew up 29 seconds after take-off, Russia's emergencies ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

The explosion sent burning debris from the rocket on to the launch pad and surrounding forest at the Plesetsk space centre, about 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) north-west of Moscow.


Serious conclusions will have to be drawn, as a modified version of this same rocket is due to take a group of cosmonauts to the International Space Station shortly

Russian official
The rocket was carrying a Photon-M satellite, which had been due to make a 15-day voyage around the Earth carrying out scientific experiments for European Space Agency member states and other countries.

The satellite was not connected with the orbiting International Space Station (ISS), manned at present by two Russians and one American.

But an official at Russia's mission control, which monitors the $90bn ISS programme, said the accident could raise a question mark over the next planned flight to the station.

"Serious conclusions will have to be drawn, as a modified version of this same rocket is due to take a group of cosmonauts to the ISS shortly," he said.

The cosmonauts - two Russian and a Belgian - are scheduled to blast off for the ISS on 28 October on a brief mission to fit a new rescue capsule to the station.

"There are no plans as yet to postpone the flight," Sergei Gorbunov, spokesman for the Russian space agency, said.

Setback

The Plesetsk facility, which is operated by the Russian military's space forces, is the launch site for many of Russia's unmanned spacecraft.

More than 1,500 rockets have been successfully launched from the Arctic cosmodrome, the northernmost facility of its kind in the world.

International space station
The accident could put in doubt the next space mission
The main launch site for the Russian space programme is the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which Moscow leases from its neighbour.

Russia has been trying to shift launches to its own Plesetsk cosmodrome. This was the eighth launch from Plesetsk this year.

Russian officials say the Soyuz-U has a good safety record, and had not been involved in an accident for 11 years.

Satellite launches are an important source of revenue for Russia, but there have been failures.

Russia lost six communications satellites in December 2000 when a booster rocket carrying them to space from Plesetsk failed shortly after launch.

An inquiry has started into what went wrong this time. But engine failure is almost certainly to blame, says the BBC's Jonathan Charles in Moscow.

See also:

28 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
13 May 02 | Science/Nature
13 Jun 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes