Russian Rocket Explodes and Crashes In Failed Launch

Russian Proton Rocket fails to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome
A Russian Proton rocket pitches nose down shortly before crashing after a failed launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 2, 2013 Local Time (Image credit: Tsenki TV)

A Russian rocket exploded in a massive fireball late Monday (July 1), destroying three navigation satellites after a failed launch that appeared to veer out of control shortly after liftoff and crash back to Earth.

The unmanned Proton rocket lifted off from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:38 p.m. EDT (0238 GMT), where the local time was early morning on Tuesday, July 2.

Video of the launch shows the 17-story rocket rising from its launch pad, then oscillating wildly and rolling as it pitched over and plunged back to Earth. The rocket burst into flames and began to break apart just before slamming into the ground and erupting into a colossal conflagration.

Built by Russia's Krunichev State Research and Production Center, the Proton rocket was carrying three Glonass navigation satellites for Russia. It marked the fifth Proton rocket launch of 2013.

A massive explosion erupts after a Russian rocket crashes into the ground following a failed launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 2, 2013 Local Time. (Image credit: Tsenki TV)

Russia's Proton rockets have suffered five major launch failures since December 2010. The most recent failure was in December 2012, when a Proton rocket launched a telecommunications satellite into the wrong orbit.

The Proton rocket family returned to flight in March of this year and was followed by three successful flights until Monday's failed launch.

This latest Proton rocket incident will likely lead to an in-depth investigation to trace the cause of the launch failure, with further launches awaiting the conclusion of that analysis.

Email Tariq Malik at or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.