MOSCOW, December 23 (Itar-Tass) — The third stage of the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle, which was carrying the Meridian satellite to orbit on Friday, failed, Aerospace Forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin told Itar-Tass.
“An accident occurred at the 421st second of the Meridian satellite launch from the Plesetsk spaceport in the off-normal work of the propulsion unit of the third stage of the launch vehicle. The satellite failed to reach a low orbit,” he said.
“A state commission is investigating causes of the accident,” he remarked.
“If the accident occurred when the third stage was working, fragments of the orbiting unit might have fallen over northern parts of Siberia,” a source in the Russian aerospace industry told Itar-Tass.
A third stage failure of a Soyuz-U rocket caused the wreck of a Progress freighter in August 2011. Soyuz-U and Soyuz-2.1a have the same third stage with the RD-0110 engine. Soyuz-2.1b has a different third stage.