|Launch vehicle||Tsiklon 3|
|Launch site||Plesetsk, Russia|
|Description||Third stage partial failure|
|Cause||Control system error|
|Payload|| 3 x Strela [Kosmos] (Communications satellites, Russian
3 x Gonets D1 (Communications satellites, Russian Aerospace Agency)
|Desired orbit||Low Earth orbit (1,420 km x 82 degrees)|
The cause for the malfunction is unclear, however. A Ukrainian-Russian investigation commission came to the conclusion that it was either the manufacturer's fault, or that the rocket had been stored for too long.
The satellites, three military Strela spacecraft and three Gonets D1 satellites provided by the Russian Aerospace Agency, burnt up in the Earth's atmosphere. Some rocket debris reportedly fell into the ocean off the Far Eastern Chukotka Peninsula. The debris caused no damage, officials were quoted as saying.
Other reports, however, quoted "experts of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces" as saying the satellites separated from the rocket and were orbiting Earth at a lower-than-expected altitude and thus couldn't be detected.