Foton-M No.1 was an unmanned space mission by the European Space Agency aboard a Russian Soyuz-U rocket that failed to launch successfully. The spacecraft's payload consisted of 44 experiments prepared by the European Space Agency, Fluidpac, BIOPAN-4, Telescience Support Unit, and others. The mission was supposed to consist of 15 days spent in orbit of the Earth and then re-enter for a landing near the Russia-Kazakhstan border.
The launch occurred at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on 15 October 2002 at 18:20 UTC. The launch failed after one of the rocket's five engines did not start, resulting in an unstable flight. Approximately fifteen seconds after liftoff, the rocket fell back to the ground and exploded. The explosion killed 20-year-old soldier Ivan Marchenko, who had been watching the launch from behind a large glass window in a processing facility a kilometre from the launch pad. Eight other soldiers who were with Marchenko were injured, six being hospitalised. Rocket fragments fell in the woods in the same area starting a forest fire, and the Blok D strap-on booster which came off during disintegration impacted the launch pad, causing structural damage. The rocket and all its experimental payloads were a complete loss.
- Soyuz Rocket Fails to Deliver Foton M1 to Orbit spaceandtech.com. Retrieved April 13, 2007
- Video of Accident Accessed April 13, 2007.
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