Due to crash, Kazakhstan suspends Proton launch

Kazakhstan suspended all launches of Russian Proton rockets, following a crash last week that destroyed a Japanese communications satellite and spread toxic chemicals over the Kazakh steppe, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the crash was the second time in the past 14 months that an unmanned Russian rocket launched from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome has strewn rocket fuel and debris, prompting angry statements from Kazakh officials.

Officials at Russia's space agency had already said last week that all Proton rocket launches had been suspended while experts investigated.

The Associated Press report said no one was injured in the incident, but some of the debris fell near the central Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan where President Nursultan Nazarbayev was on an official visit. Shukeyev said Kazakh officials have demanded more oversight over the launches, and to be allowed to coordinate them with Russian officials, the report said.

US-based International Launch Services, the American-Russian joint venture coordinating the launch, said the Proton-M rocket failed to put the JCSAT-11 satellite into orbit because of a problem during the second stage of its launch.

Russia has been aggressively trying to expand its presence in the international market for commercial and government satellite and space-industry launches, though its efforts have seen several high-profile failures.