Russian satellites crash after failed launch

Three Russian satellites crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Sunday after a failed launch, in a setback to a Kremlin project designed as a rival to the widely used U.S. GPS navigation technology.

Russian news agencies said the satellites veered off course and crashed near Hawaii after blasting off from Russia’s Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

The Khrunichev Space Center said the satellites had failed to enter the right orbit after the launch went wrong 10 minutes after take-off.

In a separate statement, space agency Roscosmos said that, “according to the results of our telemetric analysis, it has been determined that the group of satellites went off orbit.”

Both agencies said specialists were trying to work out what went wrong. The satellites were the last of a batch of 24 at the heart of Russia’s GLONASS, or Global Navigation System, its answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS).

The launch failure could delay what Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called “satellite navigation sovereignty,” and Russia’s attempt to stimulate its economy by having domestic firms mass produce GLONASS consumer devices.

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