PACIFIC SATELLITE LAUNCH PROGRAM HAS SETBACK NEAR CHRISTMAS ISLAND, KIRIBATI

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CHRISTMAS ISLAND, Kiribati (March 13, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Sea Launch, a project to fire satellites into space from a Pacific based floating platform near the equator has suffered a setback.

A Russian-Ukrainian rocket carrying a British communications company's satellite fell into the Pacific after liftoff.

The failure occurred on the system’s third launch, which followed successes with an initial dummy satellite a year ago and a television satellite in October.

Launch controllers on an accompanying command ship lost contact with the rocket several minutes after it was launched.

The rocket is believed to have plunged into the sea about 2,400 miles from the launch site, about 220 miles from Christmas Island.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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