A program error caused a Russian Proton-M carrier rocket to deviate from its course and lose a booster carrying three Glonass-M satellites, a source in the Russian space industry said on Monday.
Sunday's launch of the Proton-M carrier rocket was supposed to deliver satellites for the completion of Russia's Glonass satellite navigation system. However, the rocket, which blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, deviated from its course by 8 degrees, resulting in the loss of the DM-3 booster with the satellites. According to unofficial reports, the spacecraft fell into the Pacific Ocean to the northwest of Hawaii, RIA Novosti reports.
President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to investigate the loss of the satellites and name the people responsible, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website late Sunday.
The terse statement said the president had also demanded an audit of spending on the entire Glonass programme.
The failure was an embarrassing setback for Russia's attempt to put a satellite navigation system in place to rival the United States's GPS (Global Positioning System) and steal a march on Europe's fledgling Galileo system, Times LIVE says.