Russia just lost one of its rockets. The unmanned Proton-M, which was carrying three satellites for Glonass, the country’s satellite navigation system, exploded less than a minute after its launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome.
No one has been harmed in the incident, but the explosion is said to have spilled around 500 tonnes of rocket fuel around the crash site. Rocket fuel is a highly toxic substance, so a substantial clean-up operation at the crash site will be needed.
According to Al Jazeera, Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. GPS system. Back in February, another Russian rocket crashed just after launch, carrying a U.S. telecoms satellite. The estimated loss from this most recent crash is roughly $200 million. It is the latest in a series of failed launches and missions for the nation that sent the first man to space in 1961.