A Russian Proton-M heavy lift rocket exploded on liftoff at 2:38 UTC today (July 2, 2013). The rocket was carrying three satellites for Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System, or Glonass (equivalent to the Global Positioning System, or GPS, in the U.S.). It exploded shortly after launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the deserts of Kazakhstan. The video below shows the explosion, captured on live Russian news feed.
Here is a partial and unofficial translation of what the Russian announcer is saying in this video, from Chris Bergin earlier today on NASASpaceflight.com. Bergin wrote in a comment:
Translation may have some mistakes due to translating from Russian to Estonian to English
0:40 something has gone wrong
0:45 something is wrong
0:47 it seems like this is a disaster
0:50 rocket is heading towards the Earth and explodes in air
0:56 explosion …
1:01 And on air we have just seen a failed launch of proton-m rocket with the 3 glonass statellites
1:13 black smoke is now rising into the sky
Bottom line: A Russian Proton-M rocket exploded on liftoff earlier today (July 2, 2013). There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.