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Russia's Latest Rocket Disaster Sets Back Space Program Again

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- Russia saw its commercial space industry suffer another setback on Tuesday after a Proton-M rocket blew up seconds after launch in Kazakhstan, destroying three satellites worth $200 million in the process.

The massive clean-up from the failure was made even worse because an estimated 600 tons of toxic fuel was spewed across the launch pad, which puts Russia in a bad light with Kazakhstan, a former Soviet sister republic.

Lately, the Proton-M rockets -- developed during the Soviet era -- have been nothing but trouble.

Tuesday's incident was reminiscent of the 2010 Proton-M rocket crash that destroyed three satellites, which were intended for the Russian version of the U.S. global positioning network.  There were also at least two Proton-M failures in 2011.

All told, there have been five Proton-M mishaps since December 2010, and the latest one will push back the launch of two spacecrafts that were scheduled for later this month.

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