Human error may have caused Russia’s Meteor-M weather satellite to crash into the sea two hours after liftoff on Tuesday, according to space industry officials.
The satellite was sent into space early Tuesday in what was only the second launch from Russia’s newly-built Vostochny cosmodrome in the Far East. The $5-billion cosmodrome’s first launch took place after a 24-hour delay in April 2016.
Federal space agency Roscosmos said that the Meteor-M satellite did not reach its designated orbit Tuesday and that the agency was unable to make contact with it after liftoff.
The satellite likely fell into the Atlantic Ocean due to an error in mission input data, a space industry source told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday.
The state-run TASS news agency cited a space industry source as saying that searches were underway for the Fregat upper-stage booster. “It’s too early to say whether the booster fell or exploded,” the source said.