Carrier rocket Proton-M with Express-AM4R satellite on board burned up in the atmosphere, Roscosmos said. A representative of the Federal Space Agency said that a part of the wreckage of the rocket and satellite could fall on Earth. The geographical reference of the fall is being established.
Roscosmos confirmed the cause of the accident. When launching the satellite into orbit, during the 545th second of the flight, an emergency situation occurred in the third stage of the rocket, when the steering motor came out of order.
Previously, Proton-M was successfully used to launch satellites into orbit, particularly Express-AT1 and Express-AT - the launch was held on 6 March 2014. Express AM4R is the most powerful Russian communications satellite to date, its cost exceeds more than one billion rubles. Express series satellites are insured for 2.5 billion rubles.
A special commission of Roscosmos is investigating the cause of the failed launch. The launches of Proton rockets will be suspended until the the commission finishes the investigation.
The next launch of Proton-M from Baikonur spaceport was scheduled for June 20. "Most likely, the schedule of launches will have to be changed. After last year's accident, the launches of Proton resumed only in two months," officials at Roskosmos noted.
According to the cyclogram of the flight, the debris of the separating parts of the booster rocket were expected to fall in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan (stage 1); on the territory of the Altai republic (2nd stage and fairing). The third stage of the launch vehicle was supposed to fall into the Pacific Ocean.
This is the tenth space launch, that Russia has made since the beginning of 2014. All previous launches in 2014 were successful.