MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian booster rocket carrying three satellites crashed shortly after launch at a Russian-leased cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Tuesday.
The Proton-M booster unexpectedly shut down the engine 17 seconds into the flight and crashed some 2 kilometers (over a mile) away from the Baikonur launch pad, the Russian Space Agency said in a statement.
News channel Rossiya-24 broadcast the launch live on Tuesday morning. The footage showed the rocket tilt to one side shortly after the launch, curve downward, catch fire and crash.
Russian officials said there were no casualties or damage immediately reported. Meanwhile, the Interfax news agency quoted Kazakh Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhkov as saying that the burning rocket fuel has blanketed the launch pad with a toxic cloud. But he said authorities have yet to determine its potential danger to the environment.