One military serviceman has died and eight people have been injured as a result of an explosion at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk Region. A Soyuz-V rocket, carrying an international Photon-M satellite, exploded yesterday evening shortly after its launch. The rocket was launched at 22.20 Moscow time, and 29 seconds later contact with it was lost.
According to the Russian flight control centre, the rocket exploded due to the failure of the second stage engine. A government commission headed by Colonel-General Anatoly Perminov, the commander of the Space Forces, has already begun investigating the accident.
The Soyuz-V rocket is designed to carry satellites to a height of up to 400 kilometers. Yesterday's Soyuz-V launch was the 426th from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the programme for launching unmanned space equipment, and the 13th in the Photon programme.