A high-profile failure of a Russian rocket in Kazakhstan today increased concerns about the viability of the Russian space program as a commercial tool.
The explosion blew up three satellites worth $200 million. Video of the explosion is at the end of this story – keep watching until the shockwave hits.
Apparently these rocket failures are part of a larger, growing problem in the Russia space program. From the LA Times:
A Russian space agency official was quoted by the RIA-Novosti news agency as saying work at Baikonur is likely to be suspended for two to three months to clean up the fuel dumped across a wide swath around the crash site.
Tuesday’s rocket failure was “another setback for Moscow’s space program,” RIA-Novosti stated, recalling a 2010 Proton-M rocket crash that destroyed three other satellites intended for the Russian GLONASS system, a global positioning network like the GPS that guides American drivers, hikers, golfers and fliers.
Another Proton-M failed in August 2011, an incident blamed on a control system malfunction, and complications with the Briz engine on the rocket scrapped a Proton mission last summer. In December, a booster failed to lift the Proton to its planned satellite deployment position, necessitating a second mission to put the satellite into the correct orbit, the Russian space agency Roskosmos reported at the time.
And here’s the video of the explosion – keep watching until the powerful shockwave hits: