PLESETSK COSMODROME, RUSSIA — Russia’s largest heavy-lift rocket in decades, the Angara A5, failed to fire and now the behemoth is falling to Earth.
Experts say it’s probable that big parts of the out of control rocket will hit somewhere on Earth.
Russian newspaper Moskovski Komsomolets reports that a 20-ton segment of the Angara 5 rocket is falling back to earth after its third stage failed to fire a second time.
The rocket launch failure happened a few minutes after Russia’s third test flight of its large heavy-lift rocket started without a hitch.
The huge rocket was loaded with a dummy payload that simulated the weight balance of a satellite.
The first two stages had pushed the rocket into near Earth orbit and the third stage had fired once successfully, when it was supposed to fire a second time to push itself and the payload to a graveyard orbit reserved for parking dead boosters.
However, the Persei booster failed to fire correctly, leaving the booster and payload stranded in low Earth orbit, and experts calculate that the 20-ton structure will start falling out of the sky perhaps on Wednesday January 5.
Most of the structure should burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, but some parts are expected to impact somewhere on Earth the next day.
The Angara rocket is the first heavy-lift launch vehicle used by the Russian space agency Roscosmos in decades.
SATFLARE and Aerospace Corporation are tracking the out-of-control rocket and are providing maps and statistics about it on their websites.