Rocket Carrying Russia's Most Advanced Communications Satellite Crashes During Take Off

Tyler Durden's picture

Two days ago Russia retaliated against US sanctions by banning the US from using the International Space Station after 2020, and by barring the use of Russian rockets as launch vehicles for US military satellites. Then, moments ago, a Russian Proton rocket, carrying Russia's most advanced and powerful satellite on board, crashed on take off, during the activation of the third rocket stage some 9 minutes into the launch. Coincidence? Surely.

RT reports:

A Russian Proton rocket with advanced satellite on board crashed outside of Kazakhstan's territory after lift-off, RIA Novosti cited a source as saying.


There are so far no reports of damage or casualties.


All other launches of Proton-type rockets will be halted at Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan until the reason for the crash is determined, a source told RIA Novosti.


There was an emergency engines shutdown on the 540th second following the launch, the Russian Federal Space Agency said, as quoted by Itar-Tass.


The Proton rocket, carrying an advanced Express-AM4R satellite, was launched on schedule from Baikonur on Friday.


The Express-AM4R would have been Russia’s most advanced and powerful satellite.

A summary of the destroyed Express-AM4R:

The advanced Express-AM4R satellite is manufactured on RSCC’ order by EADS Astrium within the framework of the Russian Federal Space Program for 2006-2015. The satellite will provide TV & Radio broadcasting, broadband Internet access, multimedia services, telephony, mobile communications.


The satellite is planned for launch in 2014.




Here is NASA with an extaneded analysis of what happened:

Russia launched another of their Proton-M rockets on Thursday, with the mission tasked with lofting the Ekspress-AM4R telecommunications satellite into orbit. Launch of the Proton-M rocket took place from Launch Pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 21:42 GMT. However, an unspecified failure was noted during third stage flight. The rocket and satellite are lost.


Proton-M Launch:


The Proton vehicle is a veteran of the Russian space program, with hundreds of launches since 1965.


It is built by Khrunichev Research and State Production Center, with majority owner International Launch Services (ILS) also flying the vehicle on commercial missions.


The first stage consists of a central tank containing the oxidizer surrounded by six outboard fuel tanks. Each fuel tank also carries one of the six RD-276 engines that provide first stage power.


Total first stage vacuum-rated level thrust is 11.0 MN (2,500,000 lbf).


Of a conventional cylindrical design, the second stage is powered by three RD-0210 engines plus one RD-0211 engine and develops a vacuum thrust of 2.4 MN (540,000 lbf).


Powered by one RD-0213 engine, the third stage develops thrust of 583 kN (131,000 lbf), and a four-nozzle vernier engine that produces thrust of 31 kN (7,000 lbf).


Guidance, navigation, and control of the Proton M during operation of the first three stages is carried out by a triple redundant closed-loop digital avionics system mounted in the Proton’s third stage.


The Russians are currently using the Phase III Proton-M launch vehicle, which was flight proven on the Russian Federal dual mission of Express AM-44 and Express MD-1 in February 2009 and performed its first commercial launch in March 2010 with the Echostar XIV satellite.


The phase III configuration is the current standard configuration for ILS Proton, providing 6150 kg of GTO performance, which is an increase of 1150 kg over the original Proton Breeze M, while maintaining the fundamental design configuration.


As a workhorse, the Proton-M has suffered from its fair share of failures, none more dramatic than the July failure, when the rocket rolled from one side to the other, prior to crashing into the cosmodrome.


The Russian government launch was carrying three satellites for the GLONASS navigation system.


The vehicle then enjoyed several successful launches under its belt since the failure. However, Thursday’s mission appears to have added to the list of

Proton’s failures.


It is not yet know what went wrong, with only the Russian commentator noting an anomoly and cutting the webcast. The vehicle was on to the third stage segment of flight at this point.


The mission was set to send the spacecraft to its transfer orbit via the Upper Stage called the Briz-M, which carries out multiple burns to deploy the satellites into their respective orbits.


The Astrium-built Ekspress-AM4R – which now appears to be lost – had a mass at launch of 5,741 kg. It is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform and was expected to enjoy a service life of 15 years.

The spacecraft sported 30 C-band, 28 Ku-band, 2 Ka-band and 3 L-band transponders and was to provide digital television and radio broadcasting services across Russia, mobile presidential and government communications, multimedia services (telephony, video conferencing, data transmission, Internet access) as well as solutions based on VSAT network technologies.


Ekspress-AM4R was launched from Pad 39 of Area 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch was set to take place last month. However, engineers were delayed in repairing Pad 200/39?s ground electrical umbilical unit 8U259, which caused last year’s failed Proton rocket to lift off half-a-second early from Pad 81/24.


One of four Proton launch complexes at Baikonur, Pad 39 has been used for the majority of Proton-M/Briz-M launches, and is overall the most used of the four pads.


The first launch from Pad 39 occurred in February 1980, and since then over 100 launches have been made from it, including the core and three other modules of Mir, three probes to Venus, a probe to Phobos, and the failed Mars-96 mission.

So an emergency engine shutdown? Was the shutdown activated by a certain Fort Meade agency by any chance? We hope to find out shortly, because whether this was indeed industrial sabotage or will simply be spun as one (to avoid the stigma of incompetence)?

To be sure, if the Kremlin finds a microchip with "Stuxnet wuz here" etched into the Gallium-Arsenide, things are about to get even more interesting.

Update: here is the video recording of the first 540 seconds of the flight when the "situation" arises and the transmission ends.

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Quus Ant's picture

Stuxnet.  The gift that keeps giving.

Quus Ant's picture

No, but I did some research on this subject a while back.  First post I ever made on ZH- and LiveLeak.

This would be the 6TH rocket failure since Dec 2010. 

Jlasoon's picture

And your educated guess as to what happend is...

Jlasoon's picture

Fuckin gremlins. I hate those bastards. 

Save_America1st's picture

I guess Russia's retaliation to the U.S. of banning use of their rockets to launch satellites after the U.S. sanctioned them isn't really feeling all that effective now, ay? lol

Maybe now we'll get NASA back to what they're supposed to do: Build some kick ass space ships and let's fly to some distant planets, bitchez!

Pladizow's picture

Well played Russia. This will give Russia the ability to back peddle and tell America, "sure you can use our rockets, but look what just happened."

666's picture

Russia should launch their satellites using their ICBMs. They never miss. Or fail.

Latina Lover's picture

 USSA Empire strikes back...

franzpick's picture

After this week's mutual USSA-Russia efforts to restrict each other's use of GPS data, U.S. sabotage of the Proton, and its 3 GPS satellites, is the logical supposition.

Mistress Raindrop's picture

The Russians are a smart people.  I'm surprised they screwed this up so badly.  Putin has egg on his face.  Bitches.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Well the USSA would need heavy lift technology in order for it to fail, so I'm not sure how this is egg on Putin's face. It's like claiming you're a perfect driver who never wrecks... because you don't have a car.

Rusty Shorts's picture
Launch of Soyuz Rocket from French Guiana with European GPS Satellites

macholatte's picture


Hold on.  What’s all the talk about NASA and space and stuff like that.  I thought NASA was a foreign-aid program supposed to reach out to Muslims and provide them with American technology, like drones to Iran, so they could make their own rockets and stuff so they could attack the USA and create or save more MIC jobs.

I guess I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.


markmotive's picture

Unfortunately this is the same country that lost over 100 nukes and has the most powerful weapon on the planet.

Flux's picture

Nukes shmukes ...

A defense budget of $640 Billion had gotta buy you at least one rocket jammer.

Yeah USA!


dontgoforit's picture

Well you can be sure it wasn't the boyz in the hood, but it could have been the guys on the farm.

dontgoforit's picture

Vodka is NOT a solid rocket booster fuel.

boogerbently's picture

Hey, wait a minute,

They make OUR rockets, don't they ?

Curiously_Crazy's picture

"After this week's mutual USSA-Russia efforts to restrict each other's use of GPS data"

It doesn't quite work like that. What is happening is the restriction on Base stations sited within their borders, not the use of any data. It's all grouped as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System is the 'global' term for GPS/GLONASS/Europes soon to be Galileo/Chinas whatever they end up calling it etc etc)

It is absolutely impossible to restrict the use of GNSS data as many devices already accept both GLONASS and GPS simultaneously - As a Surveyor I use both Leica and Trimble VRS systems that do just that.

The best either could do would be to throw out the accuracy like the US used to do way back in the early days with GPS but it would be shooting themselves in the foot (In actual fact the Russians - thanks to Putin - ordered all signals, even the military's,  to be available to regular users) As such GLONASS alone is head and shoulders above GPS in terms of accuracy and will triangulate a lot faster, but the two of them together provides better accuracy due to the addition of GPS satellites.

Just throwing this info out there in case anyone gives a shit :)


rocker's picture

At least they didn't have people in theirs.  Thoughtful Food, Eh.

wee-weed up's picture

Save_America1st  said:  "Maybe now we'll get NASA back to what they're supposed to do: Build some kick ass space ships and let's fly to some distant planets, bitchez!"

Ha! Dream on...

Obozo and his NASA stooge Bolden are too busy with more important things like Muslim Outreach!

Lore's picture

Your statement seems nonsensical. How can events of the last decade in the Muslim world possibly be construed in the slightest way as "outreach?"

dontgoforit's picture

As in "I'll reach out and smack the crap out of you."  The anti-Christ is there to give you lots of food and no toilets, so to speak.

Oliver Klozoff's picture

I saw what you did there MDB.


Drifter's picture

"Build some kick ass space ships and let's fly to some distant planets, bitchez!"

With 20th century chemical rockets?  'fraid moon's about far as we'll go with that primitive technology.

kaiserhoff's picture

Ah Demetri, what will we do with you...,

and your family, and your village, and the little girl who smiled at you in third grade???

  Celebrating 50 years of friendship and cooperation.  Ask Eastern Europe.

what's that smell's picture

why do you hate the russians so much?

been watching the tellie again?

stupid is as stupid blogs.

Quus Ant's picture

From July 2013:

A Russian Proton-M rocket upended itself less than a minute after
launch Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, exploding
in a fireball of toxic chemicals.
The rocket was supposed to put three of Russia's Glonass global
positioning satellites into orbit, but during its ascent, it rolled
over and blasted its way back downward toward the Kazakh steppes,
breaking apart just before hitting the ground.

A Russian rocket crash yesterday (July 1) was likely caused by an
emergency shutdown of the booster's engines 17 seconds into the
flight, according to news reports....
This was the fifth major Proton rocket launch failure since
December 2010, with the most recent in December 2012, when a Proton
booster launched a telecommunications satellite into the wrong

BigJim's picture

Pah! What's WRONG with these guys??? It's not like it's rocket science.

RafterManFMJ's picture

By now they should realize shutting the engines off leads to a crash; unlike a plane, I'm guessing a rocket's glide ratio is 1:1

Anusocracy's picture

'Failure' rate of Proton rocket: one in nine.

'Failure' of US powered Atlas rocket: one in ten.

'Failure' rate of Atlas with Russian RD-180 first stage: one in 42.

Ness.'s picture

They forgot to add Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer before storing for winter.

I seen it on the Tee-Vee.



Abitdodgie's picture

Did you see the object come in and hit the rocket.


I am a Man I am Forty's picture

yep, was that little bastard on the wing of the plane fucking with John Lithgow in the Twiight Zone Movie.

Spumoni's picture

You want to get rid of the gremlins? You gotta stop using so much gold on those satellites. Just send it to me, I'll take care of it. I have a gremlin-proof lake out back...

johngaltfla's picture

Our tax dollars at work. Glad to see the NSA and CIA did something other than activating my phone's camera while I wiped my ass.