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Russian rocket explodes over Kazakhstan seconds after launch

Russian rocket explodes over Kazakhstan seconds after launch

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A Russian rocket has crashed seconds after launching from a spaceport in Kazakhstan. Local TV footage shows the rocket careening from side to side on its upward trajectory before breaking up and nosediving into the ground. The Proton-M rocket was carrying three navigation satellites to be used with Russia's Glonass positioning system.

The Interfax news agency reports that the rocket fell one kilometer from the launchpad within a minute of taking off. Although the rocket was unmanned and there are no reported injuries so far, the crash site may have been polluted with hundreds of tons of poisonous heptyl and amyl from the fuel.

No injuries, but possible contamination

"The rocket fell during the first minute of its flight when its tanks contained about 500 tons of fuel," said Interfax's source at Baikonur spaceport. "A lot of decontamination work may have to be done at the crash site." Another source estimated the financial losses from the incident to total up to $200 million.

The Proton-M rocket has suffered a number of failures since its first launch in 2001. A rocket carrying a Japanese communications satellite crashed soon after launching from Baikonur in 2007, and in 2010 a booster fell into the Pacific Ocean along with three Glonass satellites.

Update: As noted by The Atlantic, an eyewitness also captured the following video footage of the rocket careening out of control and exploding.