Proton-M/DM-03 rocket with 3x Glonass-M explodes and crashes at launch - video

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Proton-M/DM-03 rocket with 3x Glonass-M explodes and crashes at launch - video

Russia launched their Proton rocket Tuesday morning local time, carrying three satellites for the GLONASS navigation system. However, liftoff ended seconds later, with a dramatic failure that resulted in a huge impact at the spaceport.

The launch occurred on time, with the Proton-M lifting off as per usual in its dramatic fashion. However, the rocket almost immediately veered to one side, before trying to correct itself, in turn sending it veering in the opposite direction.

The vehicle then flew horizontal, before starting to plummet back to Earth, with its engines still firing. Aerodynamic stress saw the payload fairing and upper part of the rocket collapse and disintegrate before the Proton crashed back on to the pad complex.

Tuesday’s launch was the second of the year in support of Russia’s GLONASS program. It was also the second launch of navigation satellites in twenty-four hours, following India’s PSLV launch Monday evening with the IRNSS-1A satellite.

GLONASS is a series of Russian navigation satellites analogous to the American Global Positioning System. It is designed to provide global coverage, which requires 24 operational satellites. Today’s launch carried three satellites to plane 2 of the constellation.

A Reddit poster notes:
... Quote:
There's a little tell-tale puff of oxidizer that blooms up during ignition at and around the base of the boosters. Then we see incomplete combustion and failure as the vehicle begins to slew.

Spitballing here, but I call thrust chamber failure on the core vehicle--I've always thought the Soviet engine designs seem very abrupt at ignition in terms of pressure spike, and this would be a real good reason to suspect this. Fortunately, there isn't much downrange on the Steppes at Baikonur, so unless an unfortunate yak was meandering along at just that second, we shouldn't hear of anything other than a type standdown and failure analysis from this.

Better quality

By netchicken: posted on 3-7-2013

Parts installed “upside down” caused Russian rocket to explode last week.

Each of those sensors had an arrow that was suppose to point toward the top of the vehicle, however multiple sensors on the failed rocket were pointing downward instead. As a result, the flight control system was receiving wrong information about the position of the rocket and tried to "correct" it, causing the vehicle to swing wildly and, ultimately, crash.

The paper trail led to a young technician responsible for the wrong assembly of the hardware, but also raised serious issues of quality control at the Proton's manufacturing plant, at the rocket's testing facility, and at the assembly building in Baikonur. It appeared that no visual control of the faulty installation had been conducted, while electrical checks had not detected the problem since all circuits had been working correctly.
By netchicken: posted on 10-7-2013

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