July 26, 2006

Russian rocket with satellites crashes after launch

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian Dnepr rocket carrying
satellites crashed shortly after take-off late on Wednesday
from the Kazakh launch pad of Baikonur, Russian media reported.

RIA Novosti said the first and second stages of the rocket
failed to separate correctly after 86 seconds of flight,
causing the Dnepr -- a converted intercontinental missile -- to

"No harm was caused to the villages in the surrounding
areas," Yuri Nosenko, deputy head of Russia's space agency,
told reporters according to Interfax news agency.

The agencies said the rocket was carrying the Belka, a
monitoring satellite that would have been the ex-Soviet
republic of Belarus' first man-made object in space, along with
17 other satellites.

Russian and Belarussian media reported earlier that Belarus
President Alexander Lukashenko had traveled to Baikonur, which
is in the middle of Kazakhstan's steppes and was the launchpad
for the Soviet space program's most spectacular successes,
especially to witness the launch.

They did not report his reaction to the crash.