MOSCOW – Russian news reports say a rocket and its payload of three communications satellites has fallen into the Pacific Ocean after failing to reach orbit, the latest setback to that country's attempts to develop a system to rival the U.S. Global Positioning System.
The state news agency RIA Novosti cited an unidentified aerospace industry source as saying the rocket and satellites went into the sea Sunday about 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) northwest of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Similar reports on other agencies also were based on an unidentified source, and it was not clear if all were the same person.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos declined to comment to The Associated Press.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael de Nyse in Hawaii said Sunday his agency knew about the fallen satellites but was not responding to the scene. He did not know whether the U.S. military or any other agencies were devoting resources.
Messages left with the U.S. Pacific Command were not returned, and the Pentagon referred questions to Russian authorities.
The Proton rocket blasted off Sunday from the Russian launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It was carrying three satellites for Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System, or GLONASS.
The system — which seeks to be the equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS — was developed during the Soviet era and serves both military and civilian purposes.
The government had hoped to make GLONASS fully operational by the beginning of 2008, but it was delayed by equipment flaws and other technical problems.
Associated Press Writer Chris Weber contributed to this report from Los Angeles.