Engine Shutdown Causes Spectacular Rocket Crash - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Engine Shutdown Causes Spectacular Rocket Crash

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - Russia has temporarily suspended upcoming launches of its Proton-M rocket in the wake of Tuesday's high-profile mishap, according to media reports. An unmanned Proton-M crashed shortly after blasting off at 6:38 a.m. Moscow time on Tuesday (10:38 p.m. ET Monday). Three navigation satellites worth a total of nearly $200 million were destroyed. The incident marked the fifth major Proton launch failure since December 2010.

The Proton has been grounded while a Russian governmental commission investigates the causes of the crash and attempts to determine which officials bear responsibility for it, the Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported.

Toxic smoke driftsRussia's space agency said the booster's engines experienced an emergency shutdown 17 seconds into the flight. The Proton-M crashed about 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) from its launch site, Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, gouging out a crater reported to be 660 feet (200 meters) wide.

The rocket was carrying 600 tons of toxic heptyl, amyl and kerosene fuel. Rain has helped keep the burning fuel's poisonous smoke in check, but officials say this smoke could continue to drift, Ria Novosti reported. The town closest to the crash site is Baikonur, which lies about 38 miles (60 kilometers) away. No injuries have been reported there or anywhere else as a result of the mishap.

However, contamination will likely suspend activities at Baikonur Cosmodrome for two or three months, Ria Novosti reported, citing an unnamed source within the Russian space industry. The launch of a robotic Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station from Baikonur, currently scheduled for July 27, will probably be delayed as a result, according to this source. The next manned launch from Baikonur is Soyuz 36, which is slated to blast off on Sept. 25 to take three new crew members to the International Space Station.

Significant delaysThe next Proton-M launch on the docket is currently set to take place July 20 and deliver the Astra 2E communications satellite to orbit. That mission will probably be significantly delayed due to the Proton investigation.

The three satellites that crashed Monday were supposed to join the Glonass navigation system, which Russia is developing as a homegrown alternative to the United States' Global Positioning System.

This week's mishap continues a string of recent problems for Glonass. Three other satellites bound for the constellation were lost after another Proton crash in December 2010, for example, and the Glonass network's chief designer was let go last year amid accusations of corruption. The Proton-M that went down was insured for 6 billion rubles ($182 million) with the Russian Insurance Center, Ria Novosti reported.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:46:53 GMT
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
  • Homeowner shoots man who refused to leave his property

    Homeowner shoots man who refused to leave his property

    Saturday, July 26 2014 10:19 PM EDT2014-07-27 02:19:45 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - A homeowner shot a man who police say was on his property and refused to leave. It happened Saturday night around 11:30 in the evening in a neighborhood on the South Hill near Lincoln Park. Neighbors say it all happened pretty quickly.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - A homeowner shot a man who police say was on his property and refused to leave. It happened Saturday night around 11:30 in the evening in a neighborhood on the South Hill near Lincoln Park. Neighbors say it all happened pretty quickly.>>
  • Fatal motorcycle collision on SR 291

    Fatal motorcycle collision on SR 291

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:53:01 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The collision on SR 291 near mile post 9 is now fatal according to Sacred Heart Hospital.A 17 year old female was driving in a four car sedan that was in the northbound lane going southbound when it struck the motorcycle head on.62 year old Robert White was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. He was wearing a helmet.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The collision on SR 291 near mile post 9 is now fatal according to Sacred Heart Hospital.A 17 year old female was driving in a four car sedan that was in the northbound lane going southbound when it struck the motorcycle head on.62 year old Robert White was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. He was wearing a helmet.>>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:36 AM EDT2014-07-27 14:36:04 GMT
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
  • Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:55 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:55:02 GMT
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
  • 3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:19 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:19:11 GMT
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>