MOSCOW, Oct. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- The Russian Space Forces said Saturday a European satellite carried by a Russian rocket might have crashed into the sea after it lost contact with the satellite two hours after liftoff.
The Cryosat satellite did not respond to a communication command six
minutes after the Rokot rocket carrying it blasted off from northern Russia and
as a result, the second stage of the carrier rocket failed to separate, General
Oleg Gromov, deputy commander of the Space Forces, told the Itar-Tass news
"We believe the satellite fell into the sea near the Arctic," Gromov
Viktor Remishevsky, deputy director of the Russian Federal Space
Agency, said space experts have done preliminary analysis of the problem and
concluded that the nose cone of the rocket had failed to detach due to a fault
in the control system.
The European Space Agency's Cryosat satellite was designed to collect
data on polar ice to help scientists gain a new understanding of global warming.
It was to study, with radar altimeters, ice sheets that cover
Greenland and the Antarctic land and the sea ice in the polar regions.
The Rokot rocket, converted from the RS-18 intercontinental ballistic
missile, soared into the sky from the Plesetsk space center at 19:02 Moscow time
(1502 GMT). The satellite was supposed to reach orbit one and an half hours
after the launch but space engineers failed to establish contact with it two
hours after liftoff.
Russian space officials said launches of the Rokot rockets have been