Russian Rocket Explodes, Destroys Satellites Worth $200 Million After Launch [VIDEO]

By Staff Writer on July 2, 2013 4:10 PM EDT

Russian rocket explodes
A Russian rocket explodes shortly after take-off. Three Russian satellites, a total of $200 million, were destroyed. (Photo: YouTube / THEWORLDINBOX007)

A Russian rocket explodes shortly after take off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Tuesday. According to reports, the rocket engines had shut down 17 seconds into the flight. What's more, three Russian satellites, worth $200 million, were destroyed in the crash. The failed launch incident was filmed and shared on YouTube.

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State-run Rossiya-24 television shared the dramatic footage of more than 170 tonnes of heptyl, a highly toxic rocket propellant, igniting in an enormous fireball when the Proton-M booster rocket veered off course and plummeted back to earth. Thankfully, no casualties or injuries are reported.

According to the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the failed take off was caused by an emergency switch-off that disabled the rockets 17 seconds into the flight. The emergency switch-off was likely triggered by an issue with the engines or an error with the guidance system.

The Proton-M booster rocket was carrying three navigation satellites worth $200 million. The launch is a part of a bigger plan to invest more than 300 billion roubles ($9.1 billion) to establish technology comparable to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS).

Unfortunately, the Russian navigation satellite project is suffering major obstacles as 10 satellites have already been lost due to seven failed launches in just a year. The abysmal hit rate of successful launches prompted Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to demand for stricter regulations to avoid anymore embarrassing incidents.

Russian authorities held an emergency government meeting to address the enormous 172 tonne heptyl explosion. A highly toxic substance, the heavy rain in the area will thankfully prevent the toxic clouds from reaching the town of Baikonur just 40 miles away. As a precaution, authorities have asked locals to stay home and shut the windows. Shops were asked to close as well.

Russia sent the first man into space in 1961 and was a pioneering country in rocket science. However, the recent failures have caused critical set backs to Russia's plans to probe the moon by 2015. In fact, rocket crashes and heptyl spills have caused additional strains in relations between Kazahkstan and Russia.

Finally, watch the incredible video of the Russian rocket exploding.

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