An unmanned Russian rocket carrying three satellites spun off course within seconds of its launch early Tuesday morning, ultimately crashing into the ground and exploding in a billowing fireball.
The Proton-M rocket wobbled shortly after taking off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, turning sideways and then splintering into pieces before hurtling back to Earth. The rocket was loaded with 600 tons of toxic propellant, raising fears that the explosion could send a poisonous plume toward nearby towns.
There were no reported casualties as a result of the accident.
The Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) did not immediately identify what went wrong.
"There was an accident during the Proton-M launch," a ROSCOSMOS spokesman told the Moscow Times. "The rocket fell and exploded on the territory of the launch site. An investigation commission headed by Roscosmos deputy head Alexander Lopatin has been set up."
It was the second failed launch of a Proton-M rocket in the past three years.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: October 1, 2014
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert are accidentally having a serious debate on ISIS
Subscribe to the Week