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Proton launch fails
Posted: Fri, May 16, 2014, 11:05 AM ET (1505 GMT)
Proton launch of Express-AM4R A Proton rocket suffered a malfunction several minutes after liftoff early Friday, causing the loss of the rocket and its satellite payload. The Proton M rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 5:42 pm EDT Thursday (2142 GMT Thursday, 3:42 am Friday local time) carrying the Express AM4R communications satellite. The launch initially appeared to go well, but several minutes after liftoff Russian officials reported an "emergency situation" with the rocket. Officials said later that the rocket's third stage suffered an unspecified malfunction about nine minutes after liftoff, dooming the mission. Debris from the upper stage or satellite was reportedly found in northeast China. Express AM4R was an advanced communications satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space, valued at more than $200 million, that was to provide a variety of communications services from 80 degrees east in GEO. The failure is the second Proton accident in less than a year, after a Proton crashed seconds after liftoff in July on a mission to deploy GLONASS navigation satellites.
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