TOBOLSK, Russia, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A failure of its launch rocket has caused a Russian communications satellite to crash in Siberia minutes after liftoff, a government official said.
The Meridian satellite, launched Friday from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia atop a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket, crashed near the Siberian city of Tobolsk.
"Early information suggests that the Soyuz-2 suffered a malfunction during the third stage and the satellite came down in Siberia," a Defense Ministry official told RIA Novosti. "It has crashed near Tobolsk. The exact site is currently being established."
Satellites in the Meridian series have both civilian and military uses, intended to provide communication for vessels and airplanes with coastal stations and improve communications in northern Siberia and the Russian Far East, RIA Novosti said.
The Soyuz-2 is an upgraded version of the original Soyuz rocket that has served as the workhorse of Russia's manned and unmanned space programs since the 1960s.