July 2, 2013 – The launch of the Proton M/Block DM-03 mission with three Glonass navigational satellites for the Russian Federal Government resulted in a failure today. About ten seconds after lift-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:38 am local time, the rocket veered off of its flight path and returned to earth.
The Proton booster (Stages 1, 2 and 3) is manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center (KhSC). S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation (Energia) is the prime contractor for the Block DM-03 upper stage (Stage 4).
The impact occurred in a safe area that was evacuated for the launch and all personnel are reported to be unharmed. From early reports, there was no damage to either launch Pad 39 or 24, near the impact area; there is only minor damage to nearby buildings.
The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has set up a special commission to determine the cause of the failure and telemetry is currently being amassed and processed.
Following the commission’s findings, International Launch Services (ILS) will conduct its own Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB). The FROB will review the commission’s findings and corrective action plan, in accordance with U.S. and Russian government export control regulations. The FROB will include representatives from ILS customers, insurance underwriters and technical experts from the industry. Further detail will be provided by ILS when it becomes available.