A Russian rocket was unable to launch a US telecommunications satellite into its designated orbit yesterday, the AP reports. The rocket fell 5,000 miles short of its goal of 22,400 miles when the rocket's second booster turned off too early. The satellite could have reached its destination on its own propulsion system, but such a move would leave the spacecraft low on fuel for future maneuvers, reports the BBC.
It's the third time in three years that a Proton rocket has malfunctioned; last time, in September 2007, a rocket carrying a Japanese satellite crashed in Kazakhstan. The Proton is the product of a joint US-Russian project, the International Launch Service. A Russian commission will investigate yesterday's incident, but it may take as long as month to iron out the details.