Russian satellite hits 'cosmonaut street'
Moscow - A fragment of a Russian satellite
that fell back to Earth after a failed launch crashed into a village in Siberia
hitting a house on a street named after cosmonauts, officials said on Saturday.
The Meridian communications satellite failed
to reach orbit Friday due to a failure with its Soyuz rocket, in the latest
setback for Russian space programme which has now lost over half a dozen
satellites in the last year.
Its fragments crashed into the Novosibirsk
region of central Siberia and were found in the Ordynsk district around 100km
south of the regional capital Novosibirsk.
"A sphere was found, around 50cm in
diameter, which crashed into the roof of a house in the village of
Vagaitsevo" in the Ordynsk district, an official in the local security
services told the Interfax news agency.
In an extraordinary irony, the official said
that the house was located on Cosmonaut Street, named after the heroic spacemen
of the Soviet and Russian space programme.
The head of the Ordynsk district, Pavel
Ivarovksy, told Interfax that the damage was being examined by specialists and
the owner of the property, who was at home with his wife at the time, would
"The owner told me he heard a noise,
then a crash, and he went outside and saw the damage," he said. There were
no reports of casualties.
The failure of the Soyuz-2.1B rocket to
deliver its payload is a particular worry as it comes from a member of the same
family that Russia uses to send multinational manned crews to the International
Space Station (ISS).
An unmanned Progress supply ship bound for
the ISS crashed into Siberia in August after its launch by a Soyuz, forcing the
temporary grounding of the rockets and well as a wholesale re-jig of the
The loss of the Meridian satellite caps a
disastrous 12 months for Russia that has already seen it lose three navigation
satellites, an advanced military satellite, a telecommunications satellite, a
probe for Mars as well as the Progress.
"This again shows that the (Russian
space) industry is in crisis," admitted Vladimir Popovkin, the head of the
Russian space agency Roscosmos, in comments broadcast on state television.
"It is deeply unpleasant."
Acknowledging that the jobs of the Roscosmos
leadership were at risk, he added: "I think it is possible that the
organisational conclusions will be quite severe, right up to including