A Russian rocket carrying about $200 million worth of satellite equipment crashed this week in Kazahkhstan.
According to USA Today, there were three navigation satellites on-board the rocket at the time of the crash.
The Proton-M rocket was only in flight for about 17 seconds. It took off from a Russian-leased facility in Baikonur then plummeted back to earth and crashed in a fiery explosion.
No one was injured in the explosion but the crashdid create a large spill of heptyl, a toxic rocket propellant. Officials said that the rocket was carrying more than 1 ton of heptyl at the time of the crash.
The NY Times reports that the Baikonur government sent out fliers warning citizens to stay indoors after a large orange cloud was spotted over the city.
One of the fliers read: “Because of the failed launch at the cosmodrome a cloud of unburned fuel is moving near Baikonur. We recommend that you don’t leave home, shut your windows and doors tightly and don’t use air conditioning.”
Talgat Musabayev, head of Kazakhstan’s space agency Kazcosmos, said that it was raining in the area and that he was skeptical that the toxic cloud would reach Baikonur.
Here’s a video of the crash.
The exact cause of the crash is not known at this time but the rocket’s emergency off-switch may have been triggered by the navigation system.
This isn’t the first time that Russia has seen a rocket failure. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev criticized officials last summer after another crash saying that the agency has lost ten satellites during 7 separate launches within a one year span.