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Russian Rocket Proton-M Crashes At Launch 145

Posted by timothy
from the up-is-a-hard-direction dept.
First time accepted submitter Jade_Wayfarer writes "Today, at 02:38 UTC (08:38 local time), Russian rocket Proton-M crashed after only several seconds of flight. Proton-M was carrying 3 GLONASS-M satellites of the ill-fated Russian navigational system. There were no causalities, but evacuation of personnel was ordered because of toxic rocket fuel fumes. Video of the event can be found here."
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Russian Rocket Proton-M Crashes At Launch

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  • probably... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:26AM (#44164611)

    ...because the rocket was using GLONASS for navigation instead of GPS.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:29AM (#44164647)

      Normally AC first post comments are throwaways, but the image of a rocket trying to follow the navigation satellites in its nose made me giggle...

  • The video shows a rocket behaving just like mine on Kerbal Space Program.
    Maybe the design is exactly the same.

  • Dashcam? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:31AM (#44164661)

    I want to see the dashcam footage!

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I want to see the dashcam footage!

      You'd see Putin running away after lighting the fuse.

    • Re:Dashcam? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ashenkase (2008188) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:53AM (#44164937)
      Here you go... kinda... Proton Failure [youtube.com]
      • by router (28432)

        Awesome link, thanks for this. I feel for the Russians, sucks to lose one like that.

        Wonder where range safety was, but don't know what their protocol is; it might cause less damage if it goes off on the ground as long as its unpopulated versus an air burst. Someone in the know can weigh in here?

        Maybe people will stop h8n on SpaceX now? Naw, h8rs gonna h8....

        andy

        • Wonder where range safety was, but don't know what their protocol is; it might cause less damage if it goes off on the ground as long as its unpopulated versus an air burst. Someone in the know can weigh in here?

          "Russian rockets do not carry self-destruct explosives like Western boosters"
          [Proton Rocket Crashes [spaceflightnow.com]].
          Range safety is entirely achieved by... well... range.

          That was one of the larger modifications necessary to Soyuz-2 for it to be allowed to
          launch from Kourou in French Guiana: The Kourou-launched russian rockets do have
          self-destruct capability.

          • Rockets have failure modes in which they can fall quite far away with plenty fuel remaining.
            Launching without an automatic self-destruct system is totally irresponsible. Oh, wait, this is Russia...
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:31AM (#44164667) Homepage Journal

    Where are the reliable rockets coming and going like London buses?

    • by RogueyWon (735973)

      In fairness, London did have those bendy buses for a while, which had an unfortunate habit of catching fire.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        In fairness, London did have those bendy buses for a while, which had an unfortunate habit of catching fire.

        True. They also all tend to come at once and then none for ages.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          This is a problem in NYC as well. Bus Bunching. [wikipedia.org]

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          I believe Italy solved this problem once with its trains. People turned out to not be very happy with the results, and they hung the guy who did it. Ever since, nobody has been willing to try.

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        Yes but fortunately Boris Johnson got rid of them. Unfortunately he's not to good with zip lines [youtube.com] and dealing with scandals and being honest about his past. [huffingtonpost.co.uk]

      • by xaxa (988988)

        In fairness, London did have those bendy buses for a while, which had an unfortunate habit of catching fire.

        Three of them. The (design?) fault was fixed, and there were no further problems.

        Boris' withdrawal of bendy buses now means several affected routes are overcrowded, and more buses are needed to run the routes (a bendy bus carries more people than a double-decker bus).

    • by msauve (701917)
      "Where are the reliable rockets coming and going like London buses?"

      Those are the ones which don't find their way into the news [lbc.co.uk].
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      They're there.. right on the bookshelf where you left them, right there along with your copy of "Tin Tin - Destination Moon." [wikipedia.org] :-p

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      Where are the reliable rockets coming and going like London buses?

      Good news, everyone! The rockets you seek are on Futurama.

      Bad news, everyone! It just got cancelled.

    • The Soyuz is reliable and relatively cheap to build.

      "It has become the world's most used space launcher, flying over 1700 times, far more than any other rocket. It is a very old basic design, but is notable for low cost and very high reliability, both of which appeal to commercial clients."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_(rocket_family) [wikipedia.org]

  • by MiniMike (234881) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:39AM (#44164753)

    I heard that the rocket was also carrying Edward Snowdens political asylum request [slashdot.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:39AM (#44164761)

    There were no causalities, but evacuation of personnel was ordered because of toxic rocket fuel fumes

    Must have been a pretty big explosion to break the laws of space time like that.

  • Oh come on, guys, again? It's not like this is rocket scie... oh, wait, yes it is.

    Easy jokes aside, this is becoming a disturbing pattern. The Proton rocket has been launched how many times? 50? 100? It's supposed to be a rock-solid system at this point - the most reliable commercial launch vehicle available. How many launch failures is this in the last year? Someone down in the QA department must be sleeping on the job, or being bought off. Have they been making unwarrented component or material
    • Is there any suggestion that the etiology of the failures could be common across events? The Russians do have a fair bit of experience, although I suppose if the infrastructure supporting construction is poor, it doesn't matter how smart your rocket scientists are...
    • by Dan East (318230)

      Oh come on, guys, again? It's not like this is rocket scie... oh, wait, yes it is.

      That joke has not gotten ol... oh wait, yes it has.

    • It's supposed to be a rock-solid system at this point - the most reliable commercial launch vehicle available.

      So what is the most reliable commercial launch vehicle, and how does its failure rate compare with Proton's?

      • Sorry, I forgot to add the "serious question" disclaimer, since apparently everything on the internet these days is to be treated as sneering sarcasm unless stated otherwise.
  • by PseudoCoder (1642383) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:44AM (#44164821)
    For a system that's been flying since 2001 with upgrades, it's very troubling to have several doomed flights like this in a very short period of time. Those control divergences so early in the flight suggest either a bad sensor or a mechanical failure in the control links. At first glance it looks like the gains were appropriate to at least correct the initial divergence. If it was mechanical failure it makes me wonder what happened to the days when the Russians overbuilt everything at the expense of sub-optimal performance? Maybe they're just a bit too ambitious with all the advances, upgrades and variations in such a short period of time. Their earlier launch failed to reach orbit because they used outdated fueling data on a new vehicle.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Did you even look at the video? It's obvious that there was an engine failure that also caught fire. it was probably laterally thrusting while it was burning.

      • I saw that too. I was rather surprised they didn't blow it up - it was obvious it was game over when came over the end there - instead just letting it impact with full force (good thing it didn't decide to topple over towards the ground crews or it would have been game over for them). Makes me wonder if they have self destruct on the Proton or not?
        • No self-destruct on Protons, but it does have engine cut-off. However, for first 45 seconds the engine cut-off is disabled so the rocket has time to move away from the launch pad before it crashes back down to the ground. It this case it allowed the rocket to go further away from its launch pad than if it was immediately cut-off.
      • Yes, I looked at the video. And it shows nothing of the sort - as the rocket goes past horizontal, all engines can briefly be seen to be firing normally with no signs of fire. (At least in the other videos I've seen, it's not clear in the video linked above.)

        The OP is correct, the indications (that we can divine from the video) point to a control failure either in the guidance system and associated electronics or the mechanics of the gimbals. One key clue is the unusually high roll rate that builds up qu

    • If it was mechanical failure it makes me wonder what happened to the days when the Russians overbuilt everything at the expense of sub-optimal performance?

      They ended with the USSR. We're cheapskates now, same as everyone else, and with corruption in quality control on top of that. Well, and most of our older professionals in the field have retired, and the best and brightest new ones emigrate before they can make a difference, since pay is less than meager and career prospects are non-existent.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's the bit were it turns over and starts to head towards them that makes that funny.

      On a serious note where the hell was the Range Safety Officer on this one?
    • I'd prefer this one : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl12dXYcUTo [youtube.com] It seems that video was captured by engineers who prepared rocket to launch (voices in Russian)
  • by stewsters (1406737) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @09:48AM (#44164877)
    Needed to install the SAS module and press t to turn it on prior to launch.
  • by blackC0pter (1013737) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:01AM (#44165011)
    That's really too bad. I was looking forward to GLONASS reliably augmenting GPS and improving global GNSS coverage and accuracy. This will set back GLONASS for years. Looks like Galileo and BDS are the next best hopes.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      True, it would also be nice if we could expand GPS. More sats would really help.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I found all of my GPS problems disappear once I stopped trying to use my phone as a GPS and moved to a proper GPS (Garmin Oregon 450). My phone would literally take over 5 minutes to get a signal, and even after it did, it would drop constantly. My Garmin on the other hand get's a signal seconds after turning on (which is less than 15 seconds). I've never had it lose signal outside. Most people's problems with GPS are probably just due to bad devices, and not really any problems with the GPS system itsel
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Newer phone are much faster than that.

          I am not going to carry another GPS device everywhere I go. Even if I had to wait a couple minutes. I have had one in the past and it failed in both urban canyons and real ones.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      It's all right: They've come up with a new system called GLADOS.

    • Re:GNSS (Score:5, Informative)

      by heypete (60671) <pete@heypete.com> on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @12:14PM (#44166751) Homepage

      According to the wikipedia [wikipedia.org], GLONASS has complete global coverage and is fully operational.

      I have a GPS/GLONASS receiver and it certainly seems to have comparable coverage to GPS everywhere I've been in the last few years. Accuracy using both GPS and GLONASS, particularly when both are augmented by EGNOS, is quite good (on the order of 2-5 meters).

      The satellites they were launching on this rocket were the GLONASS-M type, which was designed in 2001, and were not part of the new GLONASS-K series.

      While certainly expensive and troublesome, I don't really see how this incident would set GLONASS back by years. /looking forward to Galileo and modernized GPS as well.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      That's really too bad. I was looking forward to GLONASS reliably augmenting GPS and improving global GNSS coverage and accuracy.

      Am I right in saying you have this problem simply because you don't have a GLONASS receiver?

      There's nothing wrong with GLONASS it works fine in most of the world.

  • by Skiron (735617)

    After hacking in to the controls, NSA missed trying to take out Snowden.

  • this is probably going to help ESA, ULA's atlas/delta and SpaceX. However, SpaceX needs to make their new F9 V1.1 and FH launch successful. Assuming that it is, then you can bet on it that a number of companies will throw in with SpaceX.
  • Does anyone know whether or not there was a range safety officer monitoring this launch? From the video, it's pretty clear early on that this booster is in trouble, and since it's unmanned it seems like it would be better to detonate the Proton before it impacts the earth.

    Without knowing the procedures and capabilities it's hard to know why the flight was not terminated sooner. Any Slashdotters with knowledge of Russian launch safety protocols?

  • but evacuation of personnel was ordered because of toxic rocket fuel fumes.

    In Soviet Russia, humans rocket from launch pad!

  • by cellocgw (617879) <cellocgwNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @12:30PM (#44166983) Journal

    TFS said "There were no causalities,"

    You would think that we could at least wait a week or two for the assessment teams to tell us if they'd found some causalities. Now, "casualties," OTOH...

  • by jbeaupre (752124)

    The video clearly shows that the payload was successfully inserted into a low orbit before the rocket broke up on reentry.

  • by jcdr (178250) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @01:59PM (#44168283)

    The best video of the failure I have found:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orOcOahNazk [youtube.com]

    Others good videos:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH3bY6-ObGg [youtube.com]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSTVkkDv30k [youtube.com]

  • "...Their Swords Into Plowshares..." - United Nations (for pics see: pics [google.com])
  • Why was there no self-destruct happening?
    Where was the guy with his finger on the "press here to explode rocket" button?

  • I always thought Proton disintegration meant something different.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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