An unmanned Russian rocket carrying three navigation satellites crashed shortly after lift-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, spilling its highly toxic propellant.
State-run Rossiya-24 television showed footage of the Proton-M booster rocket veering off course seconds after lift-off. It fell apart in flames in the air and crashed in a big ball of fire near the launch pad.
There were no reported injuries. Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying launch facility personnel were in bunkers when the rocket lifted off. Kazakhstan’s space agency Kazcosmos said the accident at launch pad No. 81 had taken place at 8:38 a.m. (0238 GMT).
“According to the preliminary estimates from the Russian side, there is no destruction and there are no casualties,” Kazcosmos said. The rocket fell on the territory of Baikonur, spreading components of its fuel, it said.