October 8, 2005

Polar satellite crashes into sea: reports

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A European satellite designed to measure
how fast the polar ice caps are melting crashed into the Arctic
Ocean after its launch went wrong, the Russian agency that
launched it was quoted as saying on Saturday.

The European Space Agency's Cryosat satellite was launched
from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia but failed to
establish communication at the scheduled time.

"We believe the satellite ... fell where the second rocket
stage is supposed to fall, that is in the Lincoln Sea, near the
North Pole," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russian Space Troops
official Oleg Gromov as saying.

European Space Agency spokesman Franco Bonacina said ground
stations did not see if the rocket's third stage fired to put
the satellite into the correct orbit.

"We don't really know what's happening right now," he told

The satellite was launched at about 1500 GMT on Saturday on
board a Rokot launcher, which is a converted inter-continental
ballistic missile.

News agencies reported that Russia's space troops had
ordered a halt into all launches using the rocket until an
investigation is carried out into what went wrong.

Equipment on board Cryosat is designed to allow it to take
precise measurements of the polar ice caps, which some
scientists believe are thinning as a result of global warming
and could lead to higher sea levels.

(Additional reporting by Jon Boyle in Paris)