27 Dec 2010

Indian rocket explodes on take-off

7:33 am on 27 December 2010

An Indian space rocket carrying a communications satellite has exploded on take-off.

Live TV footage showed the rocket disappearing in a plume of smoke moments after its launch in Sriharikota near the city of Chennai (Madras) in southern India.

The Indian Space Research Organisation said it was investigating the cause of the failure.

India is seeking to increase its share of the growing commercial satellite launch market, and says it wants to send a manned mission in space in 2016.

The rocket was carrying the GSAT- 5P communication satellite when it exploded in the first stage of the flight on Saturday.

The BBC reports India has successfully launched lighter satellites in recent years, but has faced problems sending up heavier payloads.