On 20 May 1997 a Zenit 2 exploded 48 seconds after lifting off from Baikonur with an electronic intelligence-gathering satellite of the Tselina 2 series for the Russian military. The debris fell 12 kilometres downrange.4M9 The investigation blamed the
An Iridium satellite undergoes test.
RD-170 kerosene and oxygen engine that powered the first stage.50 This was the fifth failure in 27 launches of the Zenit 2 since its introduction in 1985, in each case losing a Tselina 2 satellite: on 28 December 1985 the second stage had failed to ignite; on 4 October 1990 an engine in the first stage exploded after 3 seconds; when the vehicle resumed flying on 30 August 1991 one of the engines of the second stage exploded; and there was a replay on the next mission on 5 February 1992.51 This latest failure boded ill for Sea Launch, whose launch vehicle was basically a Zenit 2 with an upper stage.
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