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Putin says individuals guilty of negligence in failed rocket launch face jail

Russian President Vladimir Putin says those responsible for the recent failure to launch a rocket will face jail terms if they are proven to have been guilty.

Soyuz-2.1a was two minutes from its scheduled blast-off at 5:01 am Moscow time (0201GMT) on Wednesday when the launch was called off due to a fault. The unmanned Soyuz rocket was to carry three satellites into orbit.

Putin was at the site of the launch, the Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport located in Russia’s Far East, for the planned lift-off, which did not happen.

“Six criminal cases had to be launched, in which four people were arrested. Two of them, however, are under house arrest, while the other two are in pre-trial detention,” the Russian president said during a press conference on the same day.

“But if their guilt of the suspected of crimes is proven, they’ll have to swap their warm beds at home for prison bunks,” he added.

This photo taken on July 14, 2015 shows a general view of the launch pad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, which is under construction in Russia. (By AFP)

Second launch successful

The launch was, however, successfully carried out at a second attempt 24 hours after the failed lift-off, at 0501 (0201 GMT) on Thursday.

The Russian space commission had announced that the launch would be re-attempted.

The satellites separated from the rocket’s third stage about nine minutes into the flight, heading to their designated orbits, according to Russian media.

The Vostochny Cosmodrome, a spaceport for civilian purposes, has been under construction since 2012.

It is near the border with China and has been the major project in Putin’s planned $52-billion investment in space exploration up to 2020.

The first launch at Vostochny was expected in 2015, but was postponed to April 2016 due to mismanagement and poor performance by subcontractors.

The Thursday launch became its inaugural event.

Several people involved in building the Vostochny spaceport are under criminal investigation for embezzlement.

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