MOSCOW, July 4 (Itar-Tass) - A criminal case was opened over the crash of the Proton-M booster rocket with Glonass satellites, an Investigative Committee /SK/ official told Itar-Tass.
"Criminal proceedings were initiated over the signs of crime envisioned by Article 216, Part of Russia's penal code /violation of safety rules in mining, construction or other kinds of works which caused large damages/. The prosecutor's office of the Baikonur cosmodrome is supervising the probe," the SK said.
The Baikonur prosecutors will also check compliance with the legislation concerning "pre-launch preparations and launches of rocket equipment."
"As of now, it has been ascertained that there were no human casualties in the accident," prosecutors said.
A Proton-M booster carrying three Glonass-M satellites blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 06:38, Moscow time on Tuesday. Immediately after the launch, it deviated from the trajectory and began to disintegrate in midair. It fell some 2.5 kilometers from the launch site and exploded. Roskosmos said the accident occurred in the 17th second of the flight because of emergency engine shutdown. An aerospace source said the accident had not been caused by a breakdown of the DM-03 accelerator unit.
A heptyl cloud formed after the explosion. The launch pad and the launch crew were not harmed, and no casualties were reported at the crash site. A commission led by Deputy Roskosmos director Alexander Lopatin is looking into the cause of the accident.
Vice president of the GLONASS federal network operator Yevgeny Belyanko said the loss of three satellites would not affect the operation of the GLONASS system.
Prime Minister Medvedev ordered his deputy Dmitry Rogozin to set up a government commission to find the cause of the accident and demanded a list of the guilty persons, including high-ranking Roskosmos officials.
Rogozin has to work out measures to prevent similar accidents in the future.