HONOLULU, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A Russian rocket meant to put a U.S. satellite into orbit failed shortly after launch and plummeted into the Pacific Ocean, Russian space officials said.
The Zenit-3SL rocket carrying an Intelsat-27 telecommunications satellite suffered an engine failure after launch from a floating platform south of the Hawaiian Islands Friday, said Vitaly Lopota, head of the Russian space corporation RKK Energia.
"There was a malfunction -- an emergency shutdown of the first-stage motor -- around 50 seconds into the flight. We're now discussing what happened," he told RIA Novosti.
The Sea Launch consortium, led by Energia, launched the rocket from its floating Odyssey platform at an equatorial launch site in international waters at 1:55 a.m. EST.
An equatorial launch gives a rocket an assist from the Earth's rotation, allowing it to lift heavier payloads into orbit.
After the engine shut down the rocket fell into the sea not far from the Odyssey platform, which was reportedly not damaged in the failed launch.
"We are very disappointed with the outcome of the launch and offer our sincere regrets to our customer, Intelsat, and their spacecraft provider, Boeing," Kjell Karlsen, president of Sea Launch AG, said in a statement.
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