- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 16, 2015

A glitch in a Russian space launch may have sent part of a rocket and its payload — a Mexican satellite — plummeting down onto southeastern Siberia, Russian state-run media reported.

This is the second space mission mishap for the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, in less than a month and this one comes on the anniversary of a similar incident in 2014.

Roscosmos reportedly launches a particularly high number of rockets each year, and most complete their missions successfully, CNN reported Saturday. 

The Proton-M, a workhorse rocket, was feared lost after the launch, the TASS news agency reported Saturday. An “Emergency situation” occurred during the boost phase, Roscosmos said, CNN reported.

Interfax news agency quoted a space agency source saying that “Preliminary data indicate that the third stage and the Mexican satellite may fall in the Chita region. The emergencies ministry has been notified.”

The Proton-M rocket was set to launch a satellite for Mexico from its Baikondur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, CNN reported.

On April 28, a crewless Russian cargo ship sent to resupply the International Space Station went off course, then burned up upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere on May 8, Roscosmos said.

Exactly a year ago to the day, another Proton-M rocket and its communications satellite payload were destroyed, after officials on the ground lost contact with it. The rocket veered off course on May 16, 2014, causing an emergency system to cut off propulsion, CNN reported.

The rocket was about 100 miles into its ascent at the time, according to Russian state news reports, and burned up in the atmosphere.

Coincidentally, last year’s incident happened about nine minutes into flight. This year’s mishap may have occurred about eight minutes into flight, according to Russian State Media, CNN reported.

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