Russian rocket explodes after takeoff, releases toxic cloud

MOSCOW - It was supposed to be a triumphant moment The Russian Proton-M rocket blasting off from a base in Kazakhstan the event carried live on national television But then, the rocket wobbles, tries to correct itself, and veers off course.

The news anchor can only watch "It looks like it will be a catastrophe," he said. The rocket broke into pieces, slamming into the ground and sending a giant fireball into the air. Spectators on the ground scrambled to safety.

It was an unmanned rocket, but it was reportedly carrying three navigation satellites and 600 tons of toxic fuel. A toxic orange cloud was hovering over the nearby city. Authorities evacuated the area advising residents who stayed to remain indoors and keep the windows shut.

The fiery crash, not just a PR disaster, but perhaps also an environmental one as well.

It's the latest in a long string of launch incidents that could eventually cost Russia a share of the lucrative satellite launch market.