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3 Russian Satellites Crash 900 Miles Off Hawaii’s Coast

December 6, 2010

Officials said that three Russian navigation satellites crashed into the Pacific Ocean off of Hawaii on Sunday after the rocket that was carrying them failed to reach orbit.

A Russian space agency official told RIA-Novosti news agency said the capsule carrying the three Glonass satellites plummeted into the ocean 900 miles off Honolulu.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said he expects the strategic significance of developing the Glonass system to rival the United State’s Global Position System.

“According to preliminary data, the Proton rocket that took off from Baikonur at 1:25 pm (1025 GMT) took a wrong trajectory,” said a Russian space agency source cited by Interfax.

“Consequently, the booster rocket could not put the satellites in the intended orbit and it fell back with them into the atmosphere,” the source added.

Once the satellites separated from the Proton rocket, a second-stage booster rocket with the satellites aboard should have put them in orbit about 12 miles above earth.

“The ballistics experts have checked everything: the upper-stage rocket with the satellites is not on the main, intermediate nor emergency orbit,” a source told RIA Novosti.

The three Glonass-M satellites were supposed to complete a constellation of satellites Moscow had already placed in orbit.

Putin said in April that Russia planned to equip all new cars sold in Russia in 2012 with the new navigation system that the Russian military developed in the 1980s.

He said Moscow planned to launch seven new Glonass satellites, which would ensure coverage of the entire planet.

Putin said that Russia would spend $40 million in 2011 on the system.

Rocosmos, the Russian space agency, said in 2008 that Venezuela and Cuba were interested in adopting the new system.

Russia’s defense ministry confirmed the loss, but insisted that the incident would not affect the timeline of the new positioning system to be put into action.

“There are currently 26 satellites in the Glonass constellation, including two emergency satellites. This allows complete coverage of Russian Federation territory,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Russian space industry’s capacity enables us to react rapidly to what’s happened,” it said, adding that the system would be fully in place next year in any case.

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