Report: Pieces of Russian rocket may hit land after launch goes awry

Story highlights

  • It occurs a year to the date of a similar mishap with the same model rocket
  • Russia's space agency launches a particularly high number of rockets, the vast majority successfully

(CNN)A glitch in a Russian space launch may have sent part of a rocket and its payload -- a satellite -- plummeting toward southeastern Siberia, according to Russian state-run media reports.

It is the second space mission failure for the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, in less than a month. And it occurs on the anniversary of a similar loss in 2014.
    Roscosmos has a reputation for launching a particularly high number of rockets each year, the vast majority of which complete their missions successfully.
    The Proton-M, a workhorse rocket, was feared lost after launch, the Tass news agency reported Saturday. An "emergency situation" occurred during the boost phase, Roscosmos said.
    "Preliminary data indicate that the third stage and the Mexican satellite may fall in the Chita region. "The emergencies ministry has been notified," Interfax news agency quoted a space agency source as saying.
    Roscosmos had announced a Proton-M rocket would be launching a satellite for Mexico from its Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

    Past launch failures

    Like many booster rockets, the Proton-M has sections calls stages that disengage when each one's portion of the launch has been completed. Many of these stages fall back to Earth via a planned path into the ocean or onto an open stretch of land, while the spacecraft keeps flying.
    Proton-M rockets usually comprise three stages or more.
    A crewless Russian cargo ship tasked with resupplying the International Space Station went off course after launch on April 28, then burned up upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere on May 8, Roscosmos said.
    A year ago to the day of Saturday's launch failure, a Proton-M rocket and its communications satellite payload were destroyed after officials on the ground lost contact with it. That rocket had veered off path on May 16, 2014, causing an emergency system to cut off propulsion.
    It was about 100 miles high into its ascent at the time, Russian state news reported, and burned up in the atmosphere.
    Another parallel: Last year's mishap appeared to have occurred about nine minutes into flight. According to Russian state media, this year's may have occurred about eight minutes into flight.